BUCKHANNON — Upshur County schools will reopen Monday after a threat initially targeting Texas got garbled on social media to the point local school officials opted to have a two-hour delay while law enforcement investigated.
Last week, law enforcement in Bridgeport, Texas began investigating a threat made online against Bridgeport High School. As that post was shared on social media, it found its way to West Virginia, where some people mistakenly believed it targeted the Bridgeport High School located in Harrison County.
As the post continued to spread, Upshur County also got mixed in, according to Rocky Hebb, the Prevention Resource Officer at Buckhannon-Upshur High School and a member of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department.
“Social media can get out of hand,” Hebb told My Buckhannon on Monday. “B-U got mixed in. I don’t know how, but it got mixed in. From what I’ve gathered, there is a Bridgeport, Texas … and there is an Upshur County, Texas. I’m trying to put two-and-two together.”
Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus said officials decided to delay school to investigate the message out of an abundance of caution.
“We received information from the police this morning that there was a social media post that had information that was threatening,” Stankus told My Buckhannon. “We didn’t have the full information, so what happens when we receive information like that, we have to give law enforcement time to do their investigation to find out what it is, who posted it, that sort of thing.”
Stankus said the investigation involved local law enforcement as well as the Fusion Center, which focuses on cybersecurity. Once officers decided the local schools were safe, an announcement was made that schools would reopen following the two-hour delay.
“We made a decision based on the safety of students and staff,” Stankus said. “That’s always going to be the first element of our decision-making, what keeps them safe.”
Hebb echoed those comments.
“Our main priority this morning was making sure the students were going to be safe, and the staff were going to be safe,” Hebb said. “We worked together to overcome this obstacle and things worked out well … School’s in session, let’s have a great day.”
If parents choose not to send their children when schools reopen today, it will be an excused absence, the school system said.