White powder sent to Rhode Island elementary school

According to the Rhode Island Health Department, preliminary tests on a suspicious white powder that led to the closure of Greenbush Elementary in West Warwick, R.I., exhibited no bioterror agents.

A spokeswoman for the health department said that the powder that was delivered to the school on Tuesday tested negative for ricin, anthrax and other biothreat agents. The results will be considered conclusive if nothing grows in the samples after five days, Associated Press reports.

At the urging of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state environmental offices, Kenneth Sheehan, the school superintendent, ordered that the school remain closed on Wednesday. Greenbush was one of several schools around the country that received similar packages of a suspicious nature on Tuesday.

The package caused the school to be locked down and for its 500 students to be kept in their classrooms for over four hours on Tuesday.

Thomas Cooper, a parent of two children who attend Greenbush Elementary, said that parents should have received word about the lockdown much earlier than three hours after it began, ABC 6 Providence reports.

"You're thinking whose hurt," Cooper said, according to ABC 6 Providence. "You're hoping it's not your own child or someone else's. There should be a better response time. If there's a code red, you should immediately notify every parent instead of waiting three hours."

Sheehan said that he had no other choice than to delay the message.

"Because the state agencies at that particular time were called in and they were calling the shots," Sheehan said, according to ABC 6 Providence. "Quite honestly, they did not want a lot of parents there. Their children were safe."

Powder-filled envelopes from Texas showed up this week at schools in Madison, Connecticut, and Clinton, Massachusetts, as well.