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Originally published: 2013-09-04 16:53:28
Last modified: 2013-09-04 16:54:12

Our View: Unscheduled test of emergency system presents an opportunity

No school system wants to test its emergency response plan in earnest, and especially not at a time when classes have resumed for only about a week following summer break.

On Tuesday, Aug. 27, Watauga County Schools had to do both. And on that day, teachers, staff, administrators and parents discovered that, while not perfect, the plan in place accomplished what it is meant to do -- remove our students from an actual or potential threat as quickly and safely as possible.

A bomb threat that forces the evacuation of all county schools poses myriad challenges in student safety, law enforcement coordination and community stress. Indeed, with such an undertaking it is conceivable that something is going to go amiss and a student suffer from collateral harm.

That not only didn't happen on Aug. 27, but through the efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies and school officials, all schools were able to be declared safe by 10:20 a.m., less than three hours from when the threat call was received.

There's a lot of applause to go around for this successful effort, but we now suggest that school officials and law enforcement review closely the entire operation to gauge weak areas and areas for improvement. In the end, this will be the only positive effect to come out of the malice that generated such chaos. 

No part of our nation is immune to the threat of harm against our children, and for this reason, actions such as the call that was made Aug. 27 are heinous and must be actively investigated until the responsible person is discovered. 

This is what area law enforcement and school system officials are doing now, and we commend their efforts both here, and on the Tuesday that could have had a much different outcome even in the absence of the harm projected by a telephone call.