New England schools target of suspicious packages

New England Schools Target of Suspicious Packages; Vermont Schools Alerted

Vermont State Police, Public Information Officer Stephanie Dasaro – 802-241-5277
Vermont Department of Education, Communications Director Jill Remick – 802-828-3154, or 802-595-5819

Waterbury, VT – 03/09/12 – Today, March 9, Department of Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca and Captain Chris Reinfurt of the Vermont State Police held a conference call for school principals and superintendents in Vermont related to suspicious white powder letters being sent to schools across New England. At this time, no letters have been reported in Vermont. The conference call came in response to the recent letters that have been received in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and New Hampshire. To date all the letters received have been laboratory tested and came back negative for lethal pathogens.

The reported incidents in New England states are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Schools have been asked to report any suspicious letters immediately to local law enforcement officials.

Schools and educational institutions have been requested to stay alert and watch for the following suspicious mail indicators:

Inappropriate or Unusual Labeling
· Excessive postage – possibly mailed forma foreign address
· Poorly typed or handwritten address
· Misspelled words
· Odd or no return address
· Incorrect title or addressed to title only
· Restrictive markings, such as personal, confidential, or do not x-ray
· Marked with threatening, insulting, or disparaging language

Appearance
· Visible indeterminate type of powder or suspicious substance
· Oily stains, discolorations, or evidence of crystallization
· Lopsided or uneven envelope
· Movement of envelope produces indicators of loose materials – sounds and weight shift
· Rigid or bulky
· Excessive tape
· Excessive or unusual weight relative to size

If a school has received a suspicious package, they are asked to take the following protective measures:
• Initiate internal emergency action plan
• Call 911 for emergency response
• Do not handle, touch, smell, or taste
• Isolate the letter or package immediately and, if possible, shut off the ventilation system
• Wash hands with soap and water
• Create a list of persons present in the room or area when a suspicious letter or package arrived and of those who may have handled it
• Give the list to local law enforcement officials

In the event there is an incident involving a suspicious letter, an update will be issued.

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