BREAKING: 5 Caldwell County schools placed on lockdown

Five schools in Caldwell County were on "soft" lockdown for a period of time Thursday morning.

Kings Creek, Oak Hill and Lower Creek elementary schools, along with Hibriten and South Caldwell high schools, implemented the school system’s soft lockdown protocol at the recommendation of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office. Officials from the Sheriff’s Office contacted the school system around 6:45 p.m., and the affected schools went on lockdown at 7:30 a.m.

They remained on soft lockdown until 9:30 a.m.

The action was a result of information received by the sheriff’s office on Wednesday regarding a runaway juvenile. During an investigation, information developed that caused sheriff’s office personnel to advise that the five schools go on soft lockdown. The juvenile returned home safely Thursday morning and was interviewed by investigators, making sure the person was safe and not in need of medical attention.

“We do not take the safety of our children lightly,” Caldwell County Sheriff Alan Jones said. “If there is any indication that students might be at risk, we will respond and put measures in place to make the schools safe.”

Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer B.J. Fore indicated no direct threats were made toward the schools or individuals by the juvenile, but the information gathered was serious enough to start the school day with caution.

“Trying to protect the safety of students is of utmost importance,” he said. “Looking at the totality of the situation, there was potential for some issues.”

School system officials responded immediately to the situation, taking the necessary steps to lock down the schools in the event of a threat to security.

“We will act on that advisement and definitely tighten security,” Caldwell County Schools Community Relations Director Libby Brown said. “We have this protocol in place. There was never anyone on our campuses in a threatening manner, but the information shared with us warranted putting the schools on soft lockdown status.”

Brown said a soft lockdown for schools requires that all exterior doors be locked. Normal operations can continue inside the school building, but there is no outside activity for students while the soft lockdown is in effect.

“It’s a precautionary measure anytime there is a potential emergency situation that could affect a school,” Brown explained. “For safety’s sake, we will always put a school on soft lockdown as a precaution at the recommendation of law enforcement.”

School personnel are well-versed in the procedures that are implemented in such a scenario, and Brown indicated that all five affected schools handled the situation well.

“The schools are reporting everything is OK,” she said. “Everything is back to normal.”