Hickory Ridge High School in Cabarrus County was evacuated early Monday morning after reports of a suspicious package. Officials later said that package was an unattended briefcase found outside the school.
At about 10 a.m., students and staff were allowed back into the school building after investigators gave the all-clear. Investigators said, after checking out the briefcase, they found nothing to threaten safety.
During the evacuation, students and staff were moved to the football stadium and officials said parents were notified by the automated communication system Blackboard Connect.
WBTV heard from several parents who said it was more than two hours before they heard from the school. Many of them said they learned about the evacuation on social media and from their children long before they heard from the school.
Sarah Johnson-Brown said, "Finding out on social media was a blessing but at the same time a little frustrating the school wasn't a little more pro-active."
The Cabarrus County Schools says the briefcase was found around 6:45 am. They say the evacuation began approximately 8:20 am.
"Based on initial guidance from law enforcement, all student and staff traffic was directed to the opposite side of the building" says spokesperson Ronnye Boone. "After further review, we were told to evacuate at approx 8:20 am. We were working with law enforcement to ensure that we had factual, accurate information to share with parents. We also were in the process of working out next steps if the situation had escalated, which thankfully, it did not."
School officials say the "Blackboard" system messages, which makes calls to over 1,400 homes and multiple phone numbers, went out at 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Boone says that means everyone did not receive the call at the same time.
School officials say the messages went out as "Emergency messages, which prompts the system to call EVERY phone number and use EVERY email address we have in the system for that particular person. We knew the importance of this communication, and we wanted to make sure everyone got the message."
Boone says parents who did not receive the messages should contact the school to make sure their information is updated in the Power School system.
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