COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools superintendent Chris Belcher sent a letter to parents Thursday announcing a closed campus at the district's high schools Friday in response to rumors of planned violence.
Belcher wrote there have been a lot of rumors regarding a possible planned violent act at one of the high schools. He wrote most of the chatter was about a gun being brought to campus or a possible shooting. The letter said there has been a timing pattern about these rumors and threats, and that they typically escalate on Fridays. The letter said Columbia Public Schools and the Columbia Police Department have investigated the rumors but have found no credible evidence or validity to them.
Belcher said, in response to the rumors, the district will institute the following policies, effective Friday:
- All high school campuses will be closed campuses on Friday Dec. 21. Closed campus meaning the students will not be allowed to leave for lunch or AUT. Students will only be able to leave campus if there is a demonstrated academic need to do so or other designated reasons such as parental permission or if they are a part-time student.
- There will be strict controlled access to the buildings and students will only be able to enter and exit the building through designated doors. Staff will be positioned at those doors to control access.
- If thought necessary, students may be searched.
- There will be increased police patrols around the schools.
Belcher said the school district will continue these procedures as necessary in order to keep students and staff safe and to stop the rumors and threats. He said these threats are subject to punishment according to board of education policy because they are seen as terroristic threats.