‘I’m scared for my life’: Students call for distance learning, increased safety in wake of Barrington High threat

East Bay

BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — After a threat was found in the girls’ bathroom at Barrington High School Monday, students are calling on school leaders to switch to distance learning until the investigation is complete.

The threat was found written on a stall, and junior Anna Saal said classes went on as normal and students were left in the dark as to what was going on.

“I was just walking by the bathroom and I saw three officers by the door putting up tape. They weren’t allowing anyone in,” Saal recalled. “The school didn’t send out anything concrete until 4 p.m. and even then, they really were just simply saying we have things under control or we’re going to do a full investigation.”

Superintendent Michael Messore said in a statement to parents Monday that there will be an increased police presence until winter break. But Saal and her peers want more safety measures put in place.

“We don’t just want police in schools. We don’t just want five police officers sitting in a hallway. What we want is school to be virtual. We want students to be able to access their education from home and not have to prioritize their education over their safety,” the 17-year-old said. “We’re also asking for a comprehensive plan that the administrators are going to put in place that’s really going to say, ‘Here’s how we are keeping our students safe.'”

Saal created a petition with those demands and in one day it’s garnered more than 2,200 signatures.

“Not only signatures, but to see fellow students commenting, ‘I don’t want to die’ and ‘I’m scared for my life’ and ‘I’m coming into school and I can’t learn because I’m nervous.’ Several people said, ‘I don’t want to end up on the news as a picture and someone saying my name. I don’t want my parents to have to worry about that. I don’t want to end up on a T-shirt. I don’t want to be a hashtag,'” she said. “We just want to live. We just want to go to school and live.”

Barrington High School Principal Joseph Hurley sent a message to students Tuesday saying distance learning “will not be happening.”

Saal called the response “frustrating” and said students wore stickers to school on Tuesday to show support for the petition. She said they’re not giving up until they’re taken seriously.

“I’m not here to criticize the school or criticize Mr. Hurley or Mr. Messore. I’m just here to say that this is how the students feel and this is what the students are demanding and in this day and age, we don’t have time to think this is a joke,” she added. “We need to take these measures seriously.”

12 News reached out to Hurley and Messore but neither responded to our request for comment.

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