Toronto independent school ends academic year early due to threat

Branksome Hall Girls School on Mount Pleasant Road in Toronto. Google Maps

An independent Toronto boarding school has decided to end the academic year early and cancel the last day of exams following threats made anonymously Monday morning.

Officers were called to Branksome Hall Girls School in Rosedale around 7:23 a.m. Monday due to a threat made towards the school, Toronto police told Global News.

Police said they investigated a potential threat “out of an abundance of caution.”

Liisa Stephenson, the school’s associate director of communications, said the school was locked down and students were dismissed that morning.

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“We have comprehensive lockdown procedures, which the students, staff and administration have been following,” she said.

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An email sent to all parents Monday evening announcing the cancellation of school Tuesday – seen by Global News — suggested two threats were made.

In the email, the school announced it would be shutting early in response to threats it said were received by both phone and email.

“We have carefully weighed the risks of an anonymous email and phone threat against the safety of our community,” the email said. “As there is only a short time remaining in the academic year, we have made the difficult decision to cancel exams … and to close school early for all students for summer break.”

Stephenson confirmed two threats were made and said the school “made arrangements for exams” and is working on “creative ways to celebrate our students’ accomplishments.”

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The email informed parents the initial threat was found in the school email junk folder. It came from a “non-descript, non-traceable and non-identifiable email address,” parents were told.

The email said the school also received an anonymous phone call at 9:30 a.m. Monday, while Toronto police were working to determine the credibility of the email threat.

“(Toronto police) will continue to patrol and provide surveillance of the school and the neighbourhood in the coming days,” the email said.

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The school also told parents that police “completed a full sweep of the school and property, and determined the campus was safe.”

“We also thank our students and parents for their patience, cooperation and for the messages of support and understanding shared,” Stephenson said.

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