Waterford Elementary goes into lockdown

Someone in the Wolf Creek Local Schools district was alarmed enough by a short Facebook live post Wednesday to call Waterford Elementary School and report it. After that, lockdown procedures went into place, law enforcement authorities were called, and neighboring schools were alerted.

It was not clear late Wednesday afternoon what the social media post content was, but authorities said it was not created by a student.

Wolf Creek Superintendent Doug Baldwin said the call was taken by Jana Thomas, principal at Waterford Elementary School.

“It was a call from someone in the community who thought it was threatening,” Baldwin said. “I don’t know what it said, it was a live stream on Facebook, we just had the word of the person who saw it, but we don’t question that. We let the authorities sort it out.”

Thomas, he said, initiated lockdown procedures in the school, then notified him and Waterford High School, and contacted the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Beverly Police Department.

“The Beverly police were there in a very short time,” Baldwin said. “I’m really proud of my staff and students, the way they responded just as they are trained. Things were taken care of by 2 p.m., and everything was back to usual.”

Washington County Sheriff’s chief deputy Mark Warden said the perceived threat did not involve a student, and as of late Wednesday afternoon deputies were talking to the person responsible for the live stream. It was an adult, and the person was never in the area of the school, Warden said.

He said the Waterford schools were in security procedures from the time of the call, 12:55 p.m., until about 1:50 p.m. Respondents to the call included the sheriff’s office, Beverly police and Ohio Highway Patrol, he said.

“The kids and the schools did an awesome job,” Warden said.

The event also affected nearby Fort Frye Local Schools in Beverly. Superintendent Stephanie Starcher said both Beverly-Central Elementary and Fort Frye High School were placed on “lockout” after a principal was notified by law enforcement authorities that a possible threat had been identified at Waterford.

“There was an alleged safety threat, and because it was an external threat and we didn’t know exactly what was going on, we had a lockout,” she said.

A lockout, she said, differs from a lockdown in that it is meant to secure schools against a threat outside.

“You bring everybody inside, you don’t go outside, but inside the school, it’s business as normal,” she said. “As soon as it was confirmed that the threat was no longer there, we lifted the lockout. It lasted for approximately 35 minutes.”

During the lockout period, she said, Beverly village police provided additional security and surveillance outside the school.

Baldwin said he was relieved that nothing materialized and gratified by the response of the schools.

“I’m really proud of everybody involved,” he said. “You don’t want to see this every day, but we’d rather err on the side of safety.”

Baldwin concluded by repeating the mantra drilled into students as part of the district’s evolving security measures.

“If you see something, say something,” he said.