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St. Mary's High School remains closed due to 'threat of violence against school'

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A Kitchener high school was shut down Wednesday due to a “threat of violence.”

Waterloo regional police now say it will also remain closed on Thursday.

An unknown person called police around 2:40 a.m. and “threatened to carry out acts of violence at St. Mary’s High School” on Block Line Road.

In an email to students and their families, the school’s principal said: “We understand that this news may be concerning, and we want to assure you that every possible measure is being taken to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Waterloo regional police announced Wednesday afternoon that the school will also be closed on Thursday as “investigators work to determine the validity of the threats.”

No details have been released about the nature of the threat or who may have called it in.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, in a follow up message posted to their website, added: “The decision to close the school was made out of an abundance of caution, reflecting our unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety of our staff and students.”

The board went on to say that since Friday is a P.D. Day they decided, in collaboration with police, to close St. Mary’s High School on Thursday as well.

“This additional time could aid the investigation and allow us to explore and implement any potential safety measures that may be required,” they explained.

The school board also said their annual Relay for Life fundraiser, which was scheduled to take place Thursday, would also be postponed.

It’s not known when the Country Hills branch of the Kitchener Public Library, located right next door, will reopen.

Safety analyst weighs in

According to Chris Lewis, the former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner and CTV News’ public safety analyst, officers will always respond to threats against a school.

“There’s no hard and fast rules that it’ll always be x or y,” he said. “It always depends on the nature of the threat received, the history, and a variety of other factors.”

Lewis added that the chaos caused by the threat could also inspire copycats.

“The response, obviously, is what some people are looking to achieve. It’s often just kids trying to get out of school and trying to cause some havoc. Ultimately, there is no real threat. But it’s always a difficult judgement call on the part of the school and the police as to how to respond when that does occur.”

Lewis said the majority of threats are phony, but it's enough to stress out students and there are real consequences.

“Quite often charges are ultimately laid,” he explained. “Some kid’s life is going to get ruined when they’re charged criminally and brought before the courts over something so stupid.”

- With reporting by Colton Wiens

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