COURTENAY, B.C- A cougar spotted near North Island College (NIC) caused a local school to change their lunch hour today.

According to Trina Mingo, a senior administrator at Queneesh Elementary School, the animal was spotted in the woods between Courtenay’s NIC campus and the school. The college had called Queneesh to alert them of the sighting, which led the school to declare a shelter in place between 11:30 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.

All students were kept inside, as well as staff, and the lunch hour was moved to a different time. Once it was safe for everyone to head outside, extra staff and parent volunteers monitored the playground and cones were placed along the treeline to keep students away.

Mary Lee, the spokesperson for the Comox Valley School District, said that wildlife sightings are common for the district’s schools. Drills are practiced and procedures are in place for such an event.

A memo sent out from Island Health also advised “extreme caution” for anyone walking the paths around the hospital, college, and surrounding neighbourhood.