SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The shelter-in-place decision for five schools and the district office on Tuesday in Sioux Falls stemmed from a possible threat in the Tea area, officials said Wednesday.
“Sioux Falls police were contacted by the Tea Police Department about a possible threat that happened in that jurisdiction. Information was learned the person may be in Sioux Falls, potentially in the area of several schools. There was no direct or specific threat to any school within Sioux Falls,” Sam Clemens, the public information officer for Sioux Falls Police, said in an email to KELOLAND News.
DeeAnn Konrad, the spokeswoman for the Sioux Falls School District, said in an email to KELOLAND News, the district determined a shelter-in-place was warranted after it was informed Sioux Falls Police were attempting to locate a person of interest regarding an incident that took place in another jurisdiction.
“Given the nature of that incident and because safety is the highest priority for SFSD, it was determined that a shelter-in-place was warranted,” Konrad said in the email.
The Tea Police Department said in an update to a Facebook post that a juvenile who did not live in the Tea jurisdiction was arrested in connection with threat calls received at the middle school in Tea. No additional information was released because of the juvenile’s age, police said in the post.
A shelter-in-place has more of an impact on activity that would happen outside the school.
“Shelter-in-place means normal routines and schedules are continued within the walls of the school,” Konrad said. “During that time, no one is allowed to enter or exit the building without approval from the administration. Recess is held indoors.”
The shelter-in-place lasted for two hours and during that time, staff will answer the phone Konrad said.
“Anytime a change in student schedule is communicated, parents will have questions. “Can I pick up my child for a doctor’s appointment?” Because normal routines can continue in a shelter-in-place, phones will be answered,” Konrad said.
The first priority in a shelter-in-place is to notify staff and secure the students and staff in affected schools, Konrad said in the email.
“Once we have that done, notification of families occurs as soon after as possible. We know there are many reasons for parents to come to school each day – picking kids up for appointments, mentoring, volunteering in the classrooms, etc.,” Konrad said. “Not only do they have the right to know of the situation, but they also need to know so they don’t enter the neighborhood where the police are doing their work.”
The incident in Tea caused the district to conduct an administrative lockdown at several schools, according to a social media post, by Tea Area Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jennifer Nebelsick Lowery
The district went into administrative lock-in at the middle school and adjacent buildings (High School and Legacy), the superintendent said in her post.