EUGENE, Ore. — Friday was supposed to be the last day of classes for many local students.
With so many rumors racing through the hallways about potential threats to schools, at least three Oregon districts canceled classes.
Just a week after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, coupled with concerns over doomsday predictions, it’s been a hectic few days at schools across the nation.
The same was true for Sheldon High School where administrators and police tried to maintain as much normalcy as possible.
“There has been all kind of swirl about Facebook and Twitter-based rumors and I don’t know of a high school in town that hasn’t been mentioned,” said Lt. Doug Mozan, Eugene Police Department.
“Like half the school probably isn’t even here today,” said North Eugene High School freshman Shaunie Gram.
Police and administrators looked at and investigated each threat. None proved more than a rumor.
“I’m not worried today at all about anything because they caught the guy that did the posting on Facebook, so I’m not worried about anything, but some people aren’t even coming to school today because of it,” said North Eugene High School sophomore Brianna Robillos.
Students said the schools have been working to make sure they felt safe.
“They sent our parents a little voice message about not to worry about anything,” said North Eugene High School student David Nguyen.
“I wasn’t scared or anything before that, but it’s just knowing that they’ll have a lot more police here, it’s just kind of reassuring,” said Sheldon junior Kailynn Webb-Bowen.
Following recent events nationwide and here at home, districts have worked closely with law enforcement to alleviate growing concerns, not feed the fear.
“All over the country there are incidents like this. Many jurisdictions are going through the same thing. We, like many, are taking extra precautions to make sure our kids our safe,” Mozan said.
Because sometimes it’s the fear that can often do the worst damage.
“It’s things like this, it’s interesting to see how people will react to it. I’m kind of concerned about what will happen and what they’ll do,” Webb-Bowen said.
“Just use common sense. Be safe. Report all rumors. We’ll take them seriously and get to the bottom of it,” Mozan said.
In terms of attendance, 4J reported about half their students were out for a period or more Friday. Bethel administrators said they had a 31 percent absentee rate Friday. Both schools attribute the numbers to a combination of the unfounded rumors of violence that, of course, didn’t take place and families leaving town early for the holidays.