STUDENTS at at least two schools across the North West were disrupted or evacuated on Wednesday after they were targeted in online threats.
The Leader has been told Quirindi and Narrabri high schools, along with Merriwa Central School, were among dozens impacted across the state in Wednesday's attack - the second such threat in as many days.
The schools are believed to be on the list of 30 or more targeted by online threats this week that have disrupted students doing their HSC exams. It follows on from several Sydney locations which received bomb threats on Tuesday.
Oxley police confirmed officers were notified of Wednesday's incidents and did attend the schools. It's understood the schools were searched and declared safe when no items of interest were discovered.
The education department would not confirm the individual schools involved but acknowledged regional students and staff were disrupted or evacuated.
"The department is aware that a number of regional high schools today received a threatening email. The schools activated their Emergency Response Plans. Police were notified," a spokesperson for NSW Education
"The department and NSW Police anticipated there would be further disruption today and were well and truly prepared to respond appropriately.
"[On Tuesday] all schools were reminded of protocols to ensure they were able to respond promptly should a threatening email be received.
"The department is working closely with NSW Police and will continue providing support to staff and students as required."
The threats caused significant disruptions on Wednesday for both staff and students.
Detectives from the Cybercrime Squad have now launched Strike Force Rolum to investigate the circumstances and origins of the emails on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
STRIKE FORCE PROBING CYBER ATTACKS
Cybercrime Squad Commander Mark Scott warned offenders those behind the attacks could face a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment, if charges are laid.
"We won't allow you to interrupt the future of these thousands of young people," he said in a press conference on Wednesday.
"They have gone through too much in a very, very difficult year.
"We cannot allow this kind of bastard behaviour.
He also told students not to worry about the hoax emails and encouraged them to "dust yourself off and get on with the job".
The NSW Education Standards Authority confirmed Wednesday morning's biology exam was interrupted at numerous schools by the emails.
"NESA is continuing to work closely with the school sectors to support HSC students," a statement said.
"NESA has rigorous and longstanding processes to make sure affected students get a fair result."
It said where an exam is interrupted for 40 minutes or more at a school, students will be dismissed by the presiding officer and affected students will not have to re-sit exam.
Schools can also submit to NESA group applications for illness and misadventure on behalf of affected students.
Gunnedah-based Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the stunt was "a disgrace, not a funny prank" and warned severe penalties would be applied when the culprit was caught.
The impacted schools locally were contacted for comment by the Leader but did not respond on Wednesday afternoon.
- with AAP