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Kitchener high schools closed due to threats set to reopen

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Two high schools in Kitchener were closed due to threats made against them.

On Thursday morning, the Waterloo Region District School Board posted a statement on social meda saying Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute in Kitchener would be closed for the day.

"This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and well-being of all those in the CHCI school community," the statement reads in part.

The school board says staff are helping police with their investigation and will provide updates when they become available.

This comes a day after St. Mary's High School closed due to "threats of violence" made against the school.

Cameron Heights was supposed to open a new community garden on Thursday, but the opening festivities were cancelled due to the closure.

St. Mary’s had to postpone a Relay for Life event scheduled for Thursday. The school board said it is “actively working to find a new date in June for the Relay for Life event.” Fundraising will continue until the new date.

It is not clear who made the threats or what the threats entailed.

Former Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner and CTV News’ Public Safety Analyst Chris Lewis said whether it is a hoax or not, police have to send officers to investigate, which takes them away from other duties.

“Bearing in mind that those resources are now not going to other calls for service, potentially endangering somebody's life, this is serious stuff," Lewis said.

Lewis said anyone who makes a threat against a school can face serious consequences.

"Penalties for public mischief range up to six months in jail. If the crown proceeds by summary conviction or if they proceed by indictment - up to ten years in jail," Lewis said.

Beyond the penalty, Lewis said a criminal conviction would change a person’s life forever.

“Whether it be traveling abroad, whether it be getting into universities, whether it be getting jobs down the road, it's going to change them forever. For what? Just total silliness," Lewis said.

Police have been investigating the threat to St. Mary’s since Wednesday morning. Lewis said the length of these kinds of investigations depends on the situation.

"If it was a potential explosive device, there's a lot of areas to search. You would think it'd be done quicker than that, but obviously not. If it is an online threat or a phone-in threat of an active shooter, that is going to be a quicker response and ultimately be over with quick because if they don't find somebody there, then ultimately there's nothing to do," Lewis said.

A post on the WRDSB’s website states Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute will be open Friday.

“As a result of their ongoing investigation, the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) do not believe there are any safety concerns to students or staff. There will be an increased WRPS presence in the area of the school,” the post reads in part.

“Our priority is ensuring that our school remains a safe place where students and staff experience a caring learning environment that addresses their well-being. If your child is struggling, please let their Vice Principal know and/or have them reach out to their teacher, guidance counsellor or another trusted adult for support,” the post adds.

The Catholic school board has a PA day on Friday, meaning students will not be at St. Mary's even if the police investigation wraps up. The board is still working with police to determine if teachers will be at school on Friday.

Police continue to investigate both threats and are asking anyone with information to contact them.

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