Island Avenue School on Island Avenue in the south end of town was on lockdown for almost five hours Wednesday morning, after school officials reported to police around 8:35 a.m. the discovery of an envelope with an unknown powdery substance.
The incident was similar to several reported nationwide and across Connecticut recently. A school in Enfield went into lockdown Monday afternoon when a suspicious powder was found in an envelope, according to WTNH. And, state emergency crews leaving the scene of the Madison incident Wednesday said they were en route to Newington, where the Anna Reynolds School was evacuated after an unknown white substance was discovered in an envelope, according to WTNH.
There have been numerous similar incidents across the country recently, including at schools in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, others in Connecticut and Texas, according to The Portland Press Herald.
No one injured, people who came into contact receiving treatment
Anita Rutlin, the interim Superintendent of Madison Public Schools, said that no one was injured Wednedsay, but that "appropriate procedures" were being followed for those who came in contact with the powdery substance.
"The envelope arrived by US Mail in the Main Office," Rutlin said in a prepared statment. "The Secretary’s office and the Custodian’s office have been sealed as part of the investigation, and appropriate procedures were followed for those who were in contact with the substance."
"Representatives from many agencies were available on the scene to assist and advise school officials," Rutlin said. "Appropriate protocols were followed to ensure the safety of all students and staff throughout the incident. In addition to Madison Public School officials, agencies on the scene included federal, state, and local law enforcement, representatives from the Investigative Unit of the U.S. Postal Service, The CT DEEP, Madison Hose, Madison Fire Marshal’s Office, Madison Health Department, and the Madison Emergency Management Department."
Additional tests being conducted
Madison Police released a statement saying that the envelope has been removed from the school and that "all necessary precautions have been taken for the safety of the children and staff."
"Tests conducted thus far on the substance have not shown anything hazardous, but additional tests are being conducted," Madison Police said in a prepared statement. "Additional tests of the substance are being conducted. Every effort will be made to identify the substance. However it will be several weeks before a definitive identification can be made."
Here is the full statement from Anita Rutlin, Interim Superintendent of Madison Public Schools released Wednesday afternoon:
Classes resumed this afternoon at Island Avenue School following a lockdown which was the result of the discovery of an envelope containing an unknown substance. The envelope arrived by US Mail in the Main Office. The Secretary’s office and the Custodian’s office have been sealed as part of the investigation, and appropriate procedures were followed for those who were in contact with the substance.
Representatives from many agencies were available on the scene to assist and advise school officials. Appropriate protocols were followed to ensure the safety of all students and staff throughout the incident. In addition to Madison Public School officials, agencies on the scene included federal, state, and local law enforcement, representatives from the Investigative Unit of the U.S. Postal Service, The CT DEEP, Madison Hose, Madison Fire Marshal’s Office, Madison Health Department, and the Madison Emergency Management Department.
We are very pleased to report that there were no injuries during this incident, and we extend our thanks to the building staff and the students for their calm cooperation. Additionally, we would like to thank Jason Wallace and the Food Service Staff for their special efforts to provide lunch.
School tomorrow will include the scheduled CMT tests for grades 3 and 4 as planned.
We will continue to keep you informed regarding the disposition of the investigation.
Madison Public Schools
Here is the statement from Island Avenue School Principal Kathy Nutley:
Dear Island Families,
I want to begin by thanking you for the trust you placed in us today with regards to safeguarding your children. As the day allowed, I visited each of our classes to thank them personally for the flexibility they displayed and the manner in which they handled themselves. I shared with them that information had been sent to you throughout the day via eNotify and that you would talk with them this evening. Most importantly, I let them know that all of the important people who joined our building today were here to keep them safe. Please know that every decision made was with your child’s safety in mind first and foremost. I couldn’t be more proud of both your children and Island’s staff who calmly directed and guarded them throughout the day.
Thank you to all of the parents who stopped to say “thank you” at dismissal time this afternoon. We very much appreciate the trust you place in each and every day.
Police released this statement Wednesday afternoon:
An "envelope with an unknown substance was received in the main office of Island Avenue School on 3/7/12 in the morning hours. Students and staff were removed from the very small affected area immediately and those who were in contact with the substance were isolated. Madison Police along with representatives from the FBI, US Postal Inspection Service, Connecticut State Police, Connecticut DEEP and Madison Fire Department responded to the scene.
The envelope was removed from the school. All necessary precautions have been taken for the safety of the children and staff. Tests conducted thus far on the substance have not shown anything hazardous, but additional tests are being conducted. Additional tests of the substance are being conducted. Every effort will be made to identify the substance. However it will be several weeks before a definitive identification can be made.
No one was injured during this incident. Madison Public School officials have returned Island Avenue School to normal operations.
This case remains under joint investigation involving the Madison Police, FBI, US Postal Inspectors and the Connecticut State Police.
Update at 1:13 p.m.
Police officials say the lockdown at Island Avenue School is over. They are not commenting on their findings at this time.
School officials just sent out the following message:
We are pleased to announce that the lockdown at Island Avenue School has been lifted, and the building has returned to a normal schedule. Dismissal times will not change.
Thank you for your patience.
Update at 12:34 p.m.
Several more emergency trucks have left Island Avenue School, with one state emergency responder telling another he was heading over to Newington, CT, where there is reportedly another school incident relating to a suspicious substance.
Groups of parents have collected outside of the driveway of Island Avenue School and at the parking lot near the old Academy School. Several say they are scared, but confident the situation is being handled appropriately.
As of 12:30 p.m, groups of children were on the playground, playing.
There have been numerous similar incidents across the country recently, including at schools in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, others in Connecticut and Texas.
Update at 12:06 p.m.
One black truck just left, along with a fire truck from Madison Hose Co. No. 1, and the fire chief and the fire captain.
Update at 11:29 a.m.
Madison Public School officials just sent out the following message:
This is an update to our previous message.
Island Avenue School remains in lockdown and everyone is safe. Lunches are being served now in classrooms and all children are under appropriate adult supervision. Please be advised that during a lockdown no one may enter or leave the premises.
We appreciate your patience and we will continue to keep you informed as we learn more.
Original story, 10:00 a.m., with updates:
Island Avenue School on Island Avenue in Madison, CT is in lockdown Wednesday morning following the discovery of a powdery substance, according to an email parents received this morning.
Employees who arrived at work at 9:20 a.m. were not allowed to enter the school grounds.
A Madison police officer stationed at the end of the winding driveway into the school is assuring a steady stream of parents stopping by that the children were safe.
"Officer, my son is in there, can you tell me what's going on?" asked one parent who drove by around 11 a.m.
"The kids are fine. Everyone is fine," said Madison Police Officer Gregory Martin, who is stationed at the end of the Island Avenue School driveway, with his cruiser blocking the entrance to the school.
"Oh dear," said one woman, who said she had four grandchildren inside the school. "I hope everything is OK."
Madison Police declined to comment to Patch.
While parents, including one who came to pick up a child who had a doctor's appointment, were not permitted to enter the school grounds, a steady stream of local and state law enforcement vehicles did enter school grounds after showing identification, including two large black trucks and an even larger white truck that said Connecticut DEP Emergency Response Unit that entered around 10:30 a.m. A third large black truck entered around 10:45 a.m.
The email to parents said:
The Madison Police Department responded this morning to an incident involving the discovery of an unknown powdery substance in the mail at Island Avenue School. All students and staff are safe.
As a precaution, the school has been placed in lockdown pending clearance from officials. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.