Steinbach, Kleefeld schools were set to reopen after threats but closed Monday due to extreme cold
All schools in the Hanover school division are closed on Monday due to extreme cold – after seven were closed on Friday due to threats.
Most of Manitoba, including the entire southern half, is under an extreme cold warning issued by Environment Canada Monday morning.
Temperatures around -30 C to -35 C combined with wind speeds of up to 20 km/h are expected to produce extreme wind chill readings of -40 to -45 on Monday.
The Hanover Schools Department posted a notice on its website on Monday morning saying schools are closed to students but teachers are required to report to work to conduct distance classes during the cold weather.
Seven schools in the Southeast Manitoba Schools Division — six in Steinbach, about 30 miles southeast of Winnipeg, and the Kleefeld School, west of Steinbach — were closed Friday as a precaution after a spate of phone threats throughout the week forced multiple closures. An estimated 4,700 students were affected by Friday’s closures.
The RCMP launched an investigation into the threats and said it was in contact with police in the US and an international police organization after finding the threatening calls came from a US number.
On Sunday, the Hanover school department sent a notice to parents that classes would resume at all schools for Monday, although the weather changed that plan.
The notice said RCMP searched the threatened schools in the caller’s voicemail and found nothing suspicious.
“The RCMP continues to take the previous threats seriously and has allocated significant resources to the investigation. To date, the RCMP investigation has not established any credibility of the threats,” the statement said.
The notice said the school department is also working with the Center for Trauma Informed Practices, which said the voicemails were likely an attempt to prank or instill fear.
“As a result of this and the RCMP investigation, HSD has made the decision to reopen schools on Monday,” the statement said.
As students return to school, they may notice some RCMP presence at schools as the Mounties continue to provide support, the division said in its Sunday message to parents.
The threats could instill fear in some children and counseling support may be needed, the Sunday message said.
As a result, social workers and school counselors will continue to be available at the affected schools.
“We encourage parents/carers to reassure their children that they are safe at school,” the message reads.