The police search for the suspect in the shooting of a teacher outside Riverview High Tuesday night closed schools and turned back school buses, sending children home and some parents scrambling.
Evan McLenaghan, 13, and his brother Collin, 11, were waiting for their bus at 7:15 a.m. in Notre-Dame when it drove right past them, said their mom, Nell Deware.
The boys, who attend Sunny Brae in Moncton, said the bus didn’t stop to let them know what was going on, and they were confused when they saw it drive past, said Deware, adding she didn't learn that schools were closed directly from the school or the district. Instead, the information came from a group chat with other parents while her children waited at the bus stop.
The district announced through an alert on Twitter that Riverview High School, near where the shooting took place, would be closed as of 5:50 a.m.
At 7:19 a.m., an alert was issued on Twitter indicating “All Schools in [Anglophone East School District] will be closed for the day, Wednesday, Jan. 6.” Anglophone East issued a Facebook notice at 7:23 a.m. indicating schools were closed.
Deware said she saw the early morning alert for Riverview High but doesn’t understand why the other schools waited until students were already waiting for buses, or in some cases on buses, to close the other schools.
She said she was at home Wednesday, but if it had happened on other days she would have been at work and the lateness of the cancellation and lack of notification would have been concerning. She said the bus driver also didn’t stop and tell the children waiting alone that school was cancelled.
Jennifer Baskin of Hillsborough, whose children attend Hillsborough Elementary School and Caledonia Regional High School, said her family was getting ready for school when they heard the news on the radio. Both schools called about 10 to 20 minutes after that, she said, adding it felt too last minute.
She worries what would have happened if she had been working Wednesday and not at home to let her children know, but also noted the district is usually pretty good at keeping parents up to date.
Stephanie Patterson, the spokesperson for Anglophone East, said, “Some of our buses were en route this morning but were able to turn around and return students home immediately after the decision was made to close schools after consultation with the RCMP.”
When asked why the decision to close schools was made late, she did not provide more details.
Monique Boudreau, superintendent of District scolaire francophone Sud, said in a statement the decision to close schools due to the manhunt was not dictated by the RCMP.
"Due to the limited information available early this morning, the decision was communicated with some delay as some school buses had already begun their routes," she said. "We are aware that the delay in communication caused challenges for some families, and we sincerely regret this situation. Given the situation, we still believe that the decision made this morning was the right one, despite the setbacks."
Boudreau said the district is constantly reviewing its emergency protocols to ensure that they are as effective as possible and allow for the best decisions to ensure safety.
Schools in the district will be open tomorrow and support services are available, she said.
A suspect in the shooting, identified by police as Janson Bryan Baker, was arrested in Amherst around noon.
-- With files from Sarah Seeley
Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal