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TO:                            Superintendents of Schools


FROM:                      J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner


DATE:                       October 11, 2001


RE:                            School Safety Precautions in Light of September 11, 2001



I am writing to make you aware of a new threat to the continuity of our educational programs.  As reported this morning in statewide media, a package received at Loring Commerce Center, a military accounting center at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, was thought to contain a suspicious powdery substance.  This resulted in a complete shutdown of the facility and a requirement that all personnel undergo decontamination before being allowed to leave. 


In the last several hours we have heard of similar incidents in other locations around the state.  Certainly if an unusual package arrived at a school, in our current world climate, it would be subject to special precautions.  Once such a package is reported to state officials, the state is obligated to follow the same procedures as in Limestone: evacuation, decontamination, and a thorough investigation. 


My concern is that this may become the next form of disruption from individuals such as those who perpetrate bomb threat hoaxes.  At this time there is no known danger to schools from packages received through the mail.  If there is any uncertainty about the nature of a package received at school, we suggest that you not open it until school has ended for the day.  This will minimize disruption for students in the school.


If you have reason to believe a different approach should be taken, by all means follow local procedures.  In this event, I would appreciate your sharing with me any information about the nature of the incident so I can advise all superintendents.