Threatening emails force school evacuations in Macarthur

Threatening emails force school evacuations in Macarthur

UPDATE:

NSW Police is investigating the origin of threatening emails which forced the evacuation of almost 20 high schools in Sydney today, including several in Macarthur.

Local officers are being assisted by specialist officers to conduct extensive searches at each of the schools, but no items of interest have been located at this time.

Initial inquiries suggest the threats are linked and detectives from the Cybercrime Squad will lead the investigation into the circumstances and origins of the emails.

Police are reminding the community that sending threatening emails is a serious criminal offence.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Several Macarthur schools have been evacuated today after receiving a 'threatening email'.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said they started to receive reports of the emails about 11am.

"Police operations are under way across several schools throughout Sydney after reports a threatening email was received," she said.

"Students and staff have been evacuated at all locations.

"There are no reports of any injures.

"No further information available."

A Department of Education spokeswoman said they were working with police.

"The department is aware that a small number of high schools have received a threatening email," she said.

"The schools have activated their Emergency Response Plans. Police have been notified.

"The department will work closely with NSW Police and will provide support to staff and students as required.

"Further updates will be provided as the situation develops."

Ambarvale's Thomas Reddall High School was one of the schools targetted today.

They posted on Facebook: "Police were contacted today after a threatening email was received by the school. Students and staff have been evacuated to a safe site and emergency services are attending as a precaution. No students or staff have been injured and we expect classes to resume today. Further advice from NESA will be forthcoming for those students with HSC examinations being held today."

Mount Annan High School was also targetted.

"MAHS received a hoax message today," they posted on Facebook shortly before 1pm.

"We followed our evacuation protocol as the safety of all students is our first priority. Unfortunately the HSC was disrupted. Police attended and cleared the school site.

"School is now back operational as normal and students have returned to Period 4."

Elizabeth Macarthur High School was another which was evacuated.

Schools outside Macarthur have also been affected.

The Advertiser understands HSC exams were under way when the threats rolled in, and the exams were disrupted as part of the evacuation.

A spokeswoman for the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) said they were working with schools to manage the impact of the evacuations on HSC exams.

"NESA is aware of reports of a number of high schools in Sydney having to activate their emergency response plans this morning," she said.

"NESA is working with the school sectors to understand the impact on HSC exams.

"Protecting the safety of students and the school community is the priority. Impacted students will not continue exams unless it is safe to do so. No student will have to re-sit an exam.

"Schools will submit to NESA group applications for illness and misadventure on behalf of impacted students."

Exams on this today's schedule were:

Legal Studies

9.25am - 12.30pm

Classical Hebrew Extension

9.30am - 11.30am

Latin Continuers

1.55pm - 5.00pm

Visual Arts

Art Criticism and Art History

1.55pm - 3.30pm

Arabic Extension

2.00pm - 4.00pm

Indonesian Extension

2.00pm - 4.00pm

Indonesian and Literature

2.00pm - 5.00pm

Was your HSC exam interrupted today? We want to hear from you - email jessica.layt@austcommunitymedia.com.au to share your experience.