Six Portland schools were placed under lockout Tuesday morning after receiving bomb threats that were determined to be hoaxes.

Five elementary schools – Ocean Avenue, Talbot, Amanda Rowe, Peaks Island and Longfellow – and Deering High School were affected by the order. During a lockout, which is different than a lockdown, no one is allowed in or out of the building but students can continue regular activities inside the schools.

Six principals received emails at about 10 a.m. Tuesday that claimed somebody had placed explosive devices on the school grounds, according to Superintendent Ryan Scallon. Once they received the emails, they placed the schools in lockout, notified the police and sent a message to families and staff.

“A number of our schools received emails threatening harm. We believe it is hoax, but out of an abundance of caution, no one can enter any of our school buildings,” Portland schools said in its message to parents. “Portland Police are investigating. We will keep you updated.”

The police and the FBI checked the school grounds and determined the emails were a hoax. Once they found it was safe and completed all walkthroughs, around 11:30 a.m., the lockout was lifted, according to a statement from Portland police Tuesday afternoon.

“We take any threat to students and staff safety seriously,” said Scallon. “Our number one priority is making sure students are safe. In situations like this we work closely with our partners like Portland Police and work to ensure safety.”

Fake bomb threats directed toward schools, places of worship and other public spaces and buildings have become a common occurrence in Maine and around the country. Bomb threats sent to dozens of schools in December caused schools around the state to lock down. In January the Maine State House was evacuated when state capitols across the country received bomb threats. South Portland Synagogue Bet Ha’am was just one place of Jewish worship that received a bomb threat in December.

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