More than 30 Michigan schools have closed two days early for the holiday break, in part, one official says, because of rumors surrounding the belief that the ancient Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world on Friday. Five districts — covering 33 schools in Lapeer county — will cancel all classes and extracurriculars until Jan. 7, 2013.
Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 is when one cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar ends, and some believe that ending indicates a looming apocalypse. According to a letter sent to families of Lapeer Community Schools, the Mayan doomsday scenario — coupled with “numerous rumors” circulating in the state’s districts about “potential threats of violence against students” following last week’s Connecticut school shooting –prompted officials to release students for vacation Wednesday instead of Friday.
Although the rumors of violence in Michigan “have been thoroughly investigated and determined to be false,” Lapeer Superintendent Matt Wandrie writes, the rumors have been a “serious distraction” to students and the community.
“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,” Wandrie wrote in his letter to Lapeer parents.
Schools in neighboring Genessee County were closed early also, in part due to a shooting threat. While the threat proved false, school officials told the Detroit News that they felt the appropriate decision was to cancel school, as the interruption would prevent them carrying on a normal school day. Some Detroit-area schools have planned increased patrols for Friday, WDIV reports.
Schools across the country are on high alert this week as after the Newtown attack. Districts nationwide have tightened security measures and increased campus patrols, and hypersensitivity to any unusual activity or perceived threats has already resulted in numerous lockdowns.