‘Our schools are safe’: Districts take precautions as concerning posts circulate online

Education

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — School districts around the country, including several in Southern New England, are on high alert Friday in response to reports of a social media posts calling for acts of violence.

An anonymous post on TikTok, which has since spawned hundreds of copycat posts, labeled Dec. 17 as “National Shoot Up Your School Day” and warned students to stay home. The social media platform said it’s working with law enforcement to investigate the source of the post.

While officials said there’s no evidence to suggest the posts have any credibility, some school districts stepped up their security measures as a precaution. Westport, Fall River, North Kingstown and Lincoln are among the districts that sent emails to parents regarding the online trend.

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“With the number of students we have out today, it’s a bit disappointing, but we are going to continue send the message that our schools are safe,” Westport Superintendent Thomas Aubin said.

Student attendance was down 30% in Westport schools on Friday, Aubin said, adding that they have police posted at each building.

“Unbelievable police showing at all of our schools,” he said. “They will be here all day and for our extracurriculars as well, so we wouldn’t tolerate this activity.”

Given the deadly school shooting in Michigan earlier this month, Aubin asked parents to take action.

“The intensity and frequency of these events is increasing exponentially. I can’t stress to parents enough how important it is to monitor their children’s social media usage,” he said. “It has become a real place where unfortunately some really nasty people come together.”

In North Providence, the high school went into lockdown Friday morning out of an abundance of caution due to “images circulating around social media,” according to Superintendent Joseph Goho.

“NPPD arrived on the scene and upon investigation determined that there was no viable threat, that the images were being circulated on the Internet through Google, and NPPD gave us the all clear to resume normal activities,” Goho said.

It’s unclear at this time if there was any connection to the posts circulating on TikTok.

In Woonsocket, police investigated three separate incidents, two of which ended in students being charged.

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