Rogue Community College instructor Beth Quinn had just finished showing a safety video on lockdown procedures that would be instituted in an active shooter case when one of her students told her a family member had just texted about a bomb threat and campus evacuation.
Quinn, who teaches writing at the Redwood Campus in Grants Pass, went to see if any notifications had come to her computer when a colleague came into her classroom and confirmed the news. Then the text message notification from the campus's emergency alert system came to her phone: There has been a bomb threat, leave immediately.
"Everybody was calm and collected and just followed orders," Quinn said. "No sense of panic at all."
She joined an exodus of thousands of faculty and students Monday morning at RCC's campuses in Grants Pass, Medford and White City, all told to leave campus until further notice as police arrived to search the facilities for explosives. The campuses were closed for the rest of the day Monday, as was the Medford branch of the Jackson County Library, officials said.
Southern Oregon University also canceled Monday classes at the downtown RCC/SOU Higher Education Center, but continued all classes at the Ashland campus on a normal schedule.
At 3:15 p.m., Medford police said they, along with school staff, had conducted "thorough walkthroughs of all (Medford) RCC buildings and did not locate any suspicious devices."
RCC spokesman Grant Walker said the threat was received at 10 a.m. The Josephine County Sheriff's Office said the threat originally was delivered to the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety.
School officials then activated an emergency-alert system that sends texts and emails to staff and students who have signed up. A message posted to Twitter by the school's account at 10:22 a.m. advised people to leave the Grants Pass campus immediately. The notification for the Medford campus went out at 10:40 a.m., and by 10:43 a.m., school officials said all campuses were being evacuated as a precaution.
"It seemed to go very smoothly," RCC vice president of instruction Kirk Gibson said of the evacuations. "Always, we can find ways to be better, but I think overall this went pretty smoothly."
Student William Donnelly, 19, had been in his English class discussing "Beowulf" when the emergency notifications started pouring into his phone.
"(It) kept vibrating in my pocket. I didn't think much of it. No big deal," he said.
He figured out it had been bulletins about the bomb threat after the evacuation happened and he was outside.
About 5,500 full-time students are enrolled at RCC, along with about 500 or so faculty, officials said.
The threat happened less than a week after a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg that left 10 dead, something Quinn says still weighs heavily on RCC teachers and students. She said she imagined many discussions in RCC classrooms revolved around the incident Monday morning.
"We have faculty members at RCC who also teach at Umpqua. We have administrators back and forth between the two colleges," she said. "Umpqua's pretty close to our hearts because it's our closest community college."
Medford School District officials said there was no known threat to any of the district's schools, which were operating as usual.
Medford police, the Jackson and Josephine county sheriff's departments, and the FBI are collaborating on the ongoing investigation.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.