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A Cranston, R.I., middle school was ordered to shelter in place after a black bear was spotted on its property Monday morning, officials said.

Hope Highlands Middle School issued a shelter-in-place order at about 8:30 a.m. Monday when the bear was spotted “at a distance” from the school, said Michael Crudale, executive director of human resources at the Cranston Public Schools. No one had any interaction with the bear, he said.

“They had already dropped the kids off at school,” Crudale said. “Someone noticed out back just a bear walking across the property.”

The shelter-in-place was put into effect “out of an abundance of caution,” Crudale said. It remained in place for the rest of the school day and there was extra staff outside near dismissal time to make sure the students were safe, he said.

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By the time Cranston police and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management arrived, the bear “had already gone on its way,” Crudale said.

The bear spotted in Cranston is likely the same bear that was spotted in Warwick, R.I., and West Warwick, R.I., Sunday, according to DEM spokesman Michael Healey. It’s a different bear from the one that was spotted late May trying to get into a woman’s car in Narragansett, R.I., Healey said.

The bear spotted in Cranston is making its way north through Rhode Island, Healey said, and hasn’t shown signs of aggression. It is likely based out of Scituate, R.I., he said, and was “curious.”

The last confirmed sighting of it was a couple of hours after the school sighting, at another location in Cranston, Healey said.

According to Crudale, a shelter-in-place caused by a bear sighting is “not common at all.”

“We have very few bear sightings here,” he said.


Breanne Kovatch can be reached at breanne.kovatch@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @breannekovatch.

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