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Shortly before 10:30 a.m. on September 11, the Newton County School System (NCSS) was notified of a rumored threat against three of our schools—South Salem Elementary, Liberty Middle, and Alcovy High. In an abundance of caution, NCSS immediately began implementing our emergency processes. It was later determined that the threats were not credible.

According to Jan Loomans, NCSS Director of Operations, the school district has an organized safety committee that meets three times a year and includes representatives from law enforcement and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. During those meetings, the committee reviews and revises safety practices when necessary.

“During an emergency situation, our school system’s first priority is handling the emergency,” said Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools. “We realize we can’t notify parents fast enough of an emergency, but our number one priority is making sure the children are safe. Once student safety is ensured, the school district begins the parent notification process.”

She added, “It is important that parents keep schools updated when phone numbers change so new contact information can be placed in student records. Parents at South Salem, Liberty, and Alcovy should contact the school if they did not receive an emergency call this morning to verify the school has accurate phone numbers on file.”

Following any emergency situation, the NCSS safety team meets to debrief and review the incident, how the district responded, and then discusses any possible improvements that can be made.

“Newton County School System has a plan in place for emergencies and we routinely practice for them,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “We hope we never have to use the plans, but when we do, we are prepared. Then after each emergency event we review and revise our practices if necessary.”

“Although we realize parents would like to know what our procedures are during specific threats, we do not release that information to the general public for obvious safety concerns,” added Fuhrey. “Parents entrust us with their children each and every day and we appreciate that trust. I want to assure every Newton County School System parent that student safety is our primary concern. Safety is not a one-time practice—it is a daily practice and one that we will never stop. Our team did a great job handling today’s emergency event and now we will review what we can do to make our response even better.”

Furhey also thanked both the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and Covington/Newton County 911 for their assistance during today’s emergency situation.

For more information, contact Ms. Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools, at