Rumors about violence after the deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, coupled with doomsday predictions associated with the Mayan calendar, have led officials to close more than 30 schools in Michigan two days early for the holidays.
In a posting on the Lapeer school district website, Supt. Matt Wandrie said the false rumors of possible violence, coupled with the end-of-time furor surrounding the completion of the current Mayan calendar cycle, led the district to cancel Thursday and Friday’s classes, along with sports events and other extracurricular activities.
"Although we in the county are reluctant to cancel school because the rumors are unsubstantiated, we feel it is the most appropriate decision given the gravity of recent events and our present circumstances," Wandrie wrote.
Last week, a gunman invaded Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and opened fire with a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic assault-type rifle. The suspect, Adam Lanza, killed 20 children and six adults in the attack, then turned a handgun on himself. Earlier, he had killed his mother, Nancy, and taken her weapons for the spree, authorities have said.
The Connecticut shootings have put officials and parents on edge across the country, with reports of lockdowns and school closings. There have also been several hoaxes and a bomb threat in the Newtown area.
The Mayan apocalypse, in contrast, is pushed by those who believe the world will end with the conclusion of the current cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar. The Mayans didn’t predict the end of the world, but that hasn’t stopped others from making the claim on their behalf. Among the ways the world could end, they contend, is by meteor shower or collision with another celestial body.
“Given the recent events in Connecticut, there have been numerous rumors circulating in our district, and in neighboring districts, about potential threats of violence against students,” Wandrie wrote. “Additionally, rumors connected to the Mayan calendar predicted end of the world on Friday have also surfaced.
“These rumors of violence have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be false. There have been no credible threats made against any of our students,” he said. “However, these rumors have been a serious distraction for students, teachers, administrators and parents.”
Classes are scheduled to resume Jan. 7.