Herkimer BOCES superintendent: ‘Our students are safe’
Students in the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES region have been successfully transported from school following the fatal shootings that took place Wednesday in Herkimer County. Through close communication among state police, local law enforcement officials, Herkimer BOCES and the 12 Herkimer BOCES component districts, changes to normal dismissal were made where necessary. Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Mark Vivacqua said he appreciates the helpful communication from law enforcement and thanks the administration, faculty and staff at Herkimer BOCES and the component districts for properly handling a difficult situation. “Everything went according to plan, and our students are safe,” Vivacqua said. “Our thoughts are now with the families of the victims.” Students in various school districts in the area are related to victims in the shootings or were otherwise impacted by the tragedy, Vivacqua said. Herkimer BOCES crisis teams will be meeting Thursday morning to assess the level of support needed – such as the availability of counselors for students. At this time, the expectation is that Thursday will otherwise be a normal day of school in the region – unless the standoff is unresolved and police provide additional direction, Vivacqua said. Shortly after news broke Wednesday morning about the shootings in the communities of Herkimer and Mohawk, Herkimer BOCES and multiple schools in the area were placed under lockdown. Classes continued to take place within the schools. Herkimer BOCES and other area school district administrators were in regular contact with the police command center and organized a plan for dismissal of students that evolved throughout the day. Herkimer BOCES officials also kept in contact with the 12 component districts to update them on their options for dismissal. The following districts ended up having normal dismissals: Dolgeville, Oppenheim-Ephratah, Frankfort-Schuyler, Owen D. Young, Richfield Springs, Mount Markham, Poland and West Canada Valley. Ilion altered its dismissal plan and had a successful late release of students. Little Falls released rural students on buses as usual, but required city students who ride a bus or walk to be signed out by parents. Herkimer and Mohawk students were held in school past standard dismissal, but were eventually released in the early evening. Arrangements were made for some Herkimer students who live in a cordoned off area surrounding the standoff with the suspected shooter in Herkimer to go elsewhere. The Herkimer BOCES Open House originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday was postponed to a date to be determined.