Thousands of children were evacuated from schools across the UK after bomb threats were phoned in to police Monday. One anonymous caller promised the resulting shrapnel would “take children’s heads off.”
At least 21 schools were affected by the chaos Monday, which happened on the same day that 15- and 16-year old students were due to sit GCSE exams.
Police closed primary and secondary schools in response to the threats, which began in Kent and spread as far north as Newcastle.
Police conducted a thorough search of one school in Kent, where pupils were sitting an English exam at the time of the evacuation.
Canterbury Academy in Kent sent parents a text message reading: “We have evacuated the school with police agreement following three phone calls regarding an explosive device. Lessons will resume tomorrow.”
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) March 18, 2016
Matthew Manders, who has three children at Barming Primary School in Maidstone, Kent, said the ordeal was “terrifying.”
“I feel terrible, not knowing what is going on and not being kept in the loop,” he told KentOnline.
“My family is my life and I won’t be the only parent rushing back to make sure my family is alright,” he added. “It is absolutely terrifying. I don’t know why anybody would do something like this.”
Canterbury Academy head teacher Phil Karnavas said the school received “repeated” calls from a man claiming an explosive device was hidden in the school.
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) March 7, 2016
“It’s almost certainly a hoax, but with what’s happening across Europe I’m not prepared to take that gamble,” he said.
A police spokesperson said the calls are “believed to be part of a series… across the country.”
Similar bomb threats in February affected six schools in Birmingham.
Edgbaston High School for Girls, where Nobel Prize-winning women’s rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai is a student, was among the schools which received a bomb threat.