The day began like any other school day at North Hollywood High School. Teachers and support staff showed up early in anticipation of the first day of finals.
But the day was derailed after officials received a bomb threat. (New York schools also received the same threat, but did not close.)
Though the threat is believed to be a hoax, Los Angeles closed more than 900 schools, displacing more than 600,000 students.
Staff at North Hollywood High immediately began to prepare for a trying day. “Some people are staying at the school to make sure that all the students get home safely,” says a staff member who was standing outside the school on Tuesday morning. “This may be a hoax, but it still could be dangerous. A lot of students were stranded while their parents are at work. We had to make sure that they were safe.”
“It’s not quite as big a deal here, because these are high schoolers,” the staff member continues. “But there are elementary school kids across the city who had been dropped off and had nowhere else to go.”
Meanwhile, parents struggled to figure out the day. “I have three kids,” says Rosa Outar, a hotel front desk clerk who was picking up her freshman daughter at the high school. “So now I can’t go to work because someone needs to stay home with them, and my husband is already at work. So this is really inconveniencing families who need the money.”
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Adds another parent, Angela Walker: “This is a nightmare, but at the end of the day, it’s just about scheduling. I’d rather this happen than for any kids to get hurt.”
“Most parents are really being understanding,” the staff member tells PEOPLE. “They know this is circumstances out of our control.”
At North Hollywood High, officers sat outside in their police cars. “Just making sure everyone’s okay,” an officer told PEOPLE, before saying he wasn’t authorized to talk about the threat.
“With San Bernardino, you can’t be too careful,” Walker tells PEOPLE. “This is just the world we live in. It’s sad.”