School Officials Cite Apocalypse "Rumors" Among Reasons for Closure

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 20 2012 1:20 PM

School Officials Cite Apocalypse "Rumors" Among Reasons for Closure. Really.

158572259
Tourists are seen in front of the 'Gran Jaguar' Mayan temple at the Tikal archaeological site in Peten departament on December 19, 2012

Photo by Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images.

A school district in Michigan sent students and staff at 33 schools home on Christmas break two days earlier than planned today, mostly due to fears of potential copy-cat violence in the wake of last week's tragedy in Newtown. The temporary school closures are slightly newsy in themselves, but it's the secondary rationale behind the decision that really stands out.

Here, we'll let Lapeer County superintendent Matt Wandrie explain, as he did in a letter posted to his district's website (emphasis ours):

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. 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. However, these rumors have been a serious distraction for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. ...
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.
Advertisement

To be fair to the county school officials, even fully-discredited rumors of the End of The World can lead to some evolutionarily engineered existential distress. Still, it's a little shocking that they'd even mention the Mayan-apocalypse fears in the same letter as rumors of a possible school shooting.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 19 2014 6:22 PM Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.