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Schools closed Friday, Feb. 16, because of bomb threat

By Cindy Jo Ayers
Robert Rankin, Superintendent of Gilchrist County Schools made a public announcement on Thursday evening Feb. 15, that all the schools in Gilchrist County would be closed on Friday, Feb. 16, due to a bomb threat. Superintendent Rankin stated on Thursday, “Around 8 p.m. this evening, we received an email threat to the Gilchrist County District. With this short notice we cannot confirm how legitimate this threat is.”
The school district worked with Sheriff Bobby Schultz and other law enforcement agencies to determine the validity of the threat but due to the recent incident in Broward County, they decided to be cautious and close the schools on Friday, February 16. Superintendent Rankin went on to say, “The schools were closed in order to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”
During the day on Friday, GCSO deputies were stationed at each county school. Sheriff Schultz reported that there was no suspicious activity at the schools during the day on Friday.
Superintendent Rankin and Sheriff Schultz allowed all the school activities to resume on Saturday, February 17.
Sheriff Schultz later said that the bomb threat was date specific for Friday, February 16.
Currently the threat is being investigated by the FBI, FDLE, and other law enforcement agencies.
Sheriff Schultz stated on Monday that he is working with the Florida Sheriff’s Association to help the rural counties with additional training in the school related threats. Gilchrist County Deputies will be receiving additional training so they, along with the school administrations, can be as ready as possible for any scenario. Sheriff Schultz said that he and Superintendent Rankin hope to be as ready as possible and pray that they will never have to use the training. “Unfortunately this is the society that we live in today and we need to be prepared.” said Sheriff Schultz.
He encourages anyone who hears something that sounds suspicious or potentially criminal in nature, to contact the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s office at 352-463-3410.
Students in Gilchrist County returned to school on Wednesday, February 21, after having Monday off for Presidents Day and Tuesday off for teachers work day.
Currently the schools in the county have drills that are practiced several times a year. Students are trained on how to respond in case of an actual incident at their school. Parents are urged to support the drill efforts at their child’s school.
When students went back to school on Wednesday, the GCSO Deputies were at each of the county schools. The deputies will have a presence at the schools for an undetermined amount of time.

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