Virtual day for Tangipahoa Parish schools ahead of holiday week

Surveillance video from Hammond High and Hammond Eastside schools indicates what was thought to be a gun Thursday appears to have been an umbrella or walking cane.

The unconfirmed report of a gun on campus  raised panic Thursday as the school day ended, both schools were put on lock-down, and the girls basketball game was cancelled.

Members of several law enforcement agencies secured the area, conducted security sweeps of each facility and set up safety primates around both locations as the students, faculty, and staff sheltered in place.

Sheriff's Chief Jimmy Travis said after it was determined there was no immediate threat, and the students and staff were able to safely exit, detectives were able to retrieve and review surveillance video from both schools. The witness was able to point out and identify the subject in question.

"Anytime we are contacted about the safety of our citizens, especially our children, we are going to respond at the highest level and with a multitude of resources," Travis said. "We would like to thank each and every agency and organization that responded to assist with this call for service today.

Sheriff Daniel Edwards said later Thursday, "The successful coordination of efforts displayed today was second to none.” 

Meanwhile,  due to a high number of employee requests for leave—compounded with projected absences and a shortage of substitutes to cover classes and other staff duties, Tangipahoa Parish Public Schools will have a full virtual day for learning today, said Superintendent Melissa Stilley.

All employees will report to work and teachers will provide students with the necessary assignments to complete virtually today, she said.

"The board and administration are committed to seeking a board policy adjustment regarding employee leave before major holidays or other corrective actions to keep this from happening again in the future," she said.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause families. Our number one priority is always student safety and we feel that the shortages in school staff put our students at risk on campus. We wish all of our families a safe and happy holiday. Students return to campus on Monday, Nov. 29."

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