Polk School District

School district officials and local law enforcement agencies are investigating “multiple social media threats” specific to Polk County schools that led to the cancellation of classes last week.

Polk School District announced late Thursday, Dec. 16, that they were canceling classes on Friday “out of an abundance of caution” after reports of threatening posts that were circulating on social media.

A nationwide TikTok “challenge” warning of possible school violence across the country on Friday led several school districts to take extra precautions as the trend referred Dec. 17 to as “American School Shooting Day.”

A post Friday on the school district’s Facebook page attributed to Superintendent Dr. Katie Thomas expressed her appreciation for those who reported social media threats that could have possibly been specific to Polk County schools as well as individuals that may be behind the threats.

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where threats of school violence are real. This is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year for everyone, but especially our students,” the post by Thomas said.

“Social media, nationwide violence, and the mental health crisis are all factors that contribute to what has sadly become the norm for school systems. Yet, at the end of the day, as a parent and the leader of this district, I want to ensure that every threat is taken seriously.”

The post also said that each allegation is being investigated and any individual found responsible will be charged accordingly.

Friday was supposed to be the final day of classes before Christmas break for Polk School District students. Teachers are scheduled to return Jan. 3, 2022, while students will return Jan. 4.

High school students that were scheduled to take any final exams on Friday will not be required to make them up, according to the school district. Grades for those classes will be calculated excluding the final exam.

Thomas’ post went on to apologize for the inconvenience of the abrupt cancellation of classes and the stress and disappointment of missing school that day may have caused students and parents.

A recent anonymous TikTok “challenge” and other viral social media posts threatening violence Friday “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” has been pegged as bogus by authorities across the country, but many school districts and law enforcement agencies still say they’re on alert or bolstering security.

Polk School District officials were aware of the general threat and mentioned it in an earlier post on the district’s Facebook page Thursday night, adding that the social media posts warn about the possibility of nationwide shootings or bomb threats on Friday.

The post went on to explain the school district was working with local police and had not determined any threats were credible in relation to Polk County schools. Around two hours later, the post canceling classes was sent out.

School administrators across the state and country have encouraged parents to monitor their children’s social media activity, to discuss online behavior and the consequences of posting threats.

Benjamin Kail of masslive.com contributed to this report.

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