The Superintendent for Hanover School Division (HSD) says the safety of students and staff was their number one concern following a threat made Thursday towards one of their schools.

According to the division, Clearspring Middle School (CMS) in Steinbach received a voice message on Thursday from an unknown caller issuing a direct threat to CMS for Friday. The division says it takes threats to schools or persons very seriously and staff immediately contacted the RCMP. The division says upon investigation, the RCMP determined the call was associated with a U.S. telephone number. The division says there are indications that this is not a legitimate threat, but this has not yet been confirmed and that an active investigation by the RCMP is underway.

"While (the investigation is) taking place we won't really publish any additional information, in order not to jeopardize that investigation," says HSD Superintendent Shelley Amos.

Amos says the threat was deemed serious enough that the division considered its options for Friday. The decision was made to close CMS for the day in order to protect staff and students. The school has transitioned to remote learning for the day.

According to Amos, after learning of the threat, the division had to decide the percentage of chance that it was legitimate, versus the risk of doing nothing. She notes because RCMP had not yet confirmed whether this was a hoax, they decided to close the school and inform parents.

"We would much rather be upfront and transparent and communicate all of this with parents than make a decision to keep the information to ourselves and not close for the day," she stresses. "I think that causes more concern for people and safety when we're not transparent in these issues."

Amos adds they never want to find themselves in a situation where they ignore a threat, and it ends up being legitimate.

"If we don't act on that and we had knowledge we create opportunity for a worst-case scenario," she notes. "And so, we err on the side of caution, even when the threat might be lower risk."

Amos thanks the parents for their patience and understanding.