ROTTERDAM -- Rain wasn’t the thing keeping Pinewood Elementary students from outdoor recess Thursday.
Pinewood Principal Jason Thompson heard about local bear sightings, some from students, on Thursday morning and decided it was best for his students to follow a “Shelter in Place” directive after consulting with Mohonasen Central School District’s safety officials.
“Having heard of a number of sightings in the neighborhood including some of our own students’ accounts, the safest option was to keep the students inside to prevent any issues,” Thompson wrote.
Thompson’s decision came hours after police spotted a “young” black bear on Highbridge Road earlier Thursday. Two officers first noticed the bear early Thursday morning after a resident knocked on their patrol car's window to alert them about the animal, according to Rotterdam police Lt. Kyle Girard. The officers followed the bear until it scaled a fence.
Police later responded to a call reporting that the animal was walking around the Rotterdam Spectrum building. And at 1 p.m., another resident told police they spotted the bear in the Highbridge area.
Girard said the bear is “not on the large end,” but also not a cub. He said the bear was “not irrational” and just seemed to be seeking food and shelter.
The police have notified the Department of Environmental Conservation about the animal. The DEC’s website has instructions for coming into contact with bears.
In 2014, DEC officials tranquilized a black bear that perched in a tree in Rotterdam. In late April, an Uber and Lyft driver captured a video of a black bear by the Union College campus in Schenectady.
Girard recommends that Rotterdam residents “keep an eye out” for the animal and make sure any food or garbage left outside is covered with a tight lid.
Thompson, in response to the bear sightings, canceled a couple school events Thursday and Friday, including a Flag Day celebration.
“As always, our intention is to ensure the safety of students and once we receive notice that the neighboring area is free from this concern, I will resume outside activities accordingly,” Thompson wrote.