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Rumors of violence, end of world spur Barrington schools to increase security

Updated: December 21, 2012 10:00AM

School officials for northwest suburban Barrington School District 220 say they are just playing it safe.

Real safe.

With the massacre of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., still vivid and circulating rumors of possible violence at district schools, officials say they are increasing security Friday — the same day ancient Mayans predicted the world will end.

“You have this legend of the end of the world occurring on Friday and that’s one week following the tragedy” at Sandy Hook Elementary, district spokesman Jeff Arnett said on the eve of the forecasted apocalypse. “People connect the two quite literally. A lot of schools across the country . . . are dealing with a lot of student stories and rumors dealing with this supposed Mayan legend about the end of the world.”

With classes letting out for the holiday break on Friday, Arnett said the district expects more visitors than normal because many classrooms will be holding holiday parties.

All who enter schools throughout the K-12 district on Friday can expect added attention to visitors’ ID cards, keeping track of students and vigorous patrols of school buildings on Friday.

Security measures, Arnett said, will not include metal detectors or pat-downs.

The increased focus on security came after a significant number of students and parents have reported hearing rumors — all of them unfounded — that someone may bring a gun to one of the district’s 13 schools.

“There’s a fear out there that someone is bent on making sure the world ends. Parents are on edge,” Arnett said. This “is an opportunity for us to reinforce safety and security in school.”

The district warned that students who disrupt the school environment by spreading the end-of-the-world falsehoods would be subject to disciplinary consequences.

Last week, a dance at Barrington High School was canceled in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre after rumors circulated that a student was going to bring a gun.

“We just want to assure everyone our schools are safe . . . very measure has been taken into consideration,” Arnett said.

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