So much misinformation about a perceived threat at Cheshire High School was shared on Twitter that Principal Jeff Solan said Tuesday he had to act to quench the rumor mill.
"Within 20 minutes of first reporting it, many were tweeting about it and the inaccurate information heightened the concern," Solan said. He responded by sending an email to students' parents on Monday afternoon.
"It jeopardizes the environment. It's important that students, staff and family know what the right information was to ensure a safe school climate," Solan added.
An increased police presence greeted students on Tuesday morning, an action expected by the students. "I said hello to all the officers. There were a bunch around the school," said sophomore Ben Alexander.
"It shows how a joke can have a huge affect on people," said sophomore Cullen Clairmont.
Both students knew the perceived threat mentioned the Mayan calendar and the date Oct. 2 as a day when people will die.
Solan said concern from parents was strong enough for attendance on Tuesday to rise to 13 percent from an average of 3 percent.
The Cheshire Police Department said it plans to have three additional officers at the school the rest of the week. "We're collaborating to assess the environment," Solan said. The amount of additional police on site could change, he said, as the week goes on.
School administrators are working to find out who wrote the message in a boy's bathroom stall, and when. The writing was in very faint blue pen, on a gray backround, Solan said. "It's frustrating because you can't tell how long it's been there," he said.
The message was first seen by students who reported it to a hall monitor, Solan said. "We check for graffitti, it's limited. The students are good about not doing it," Solan added.
Original article; Mon., Sept 1.
Cheshire High School parents received this message from Principal Jeff Solan on Monday afternoon:
Dear CHS Parent,
A student scrolled a message on a boy’s lavatory stall which has taken on a life of its own.
The message reads “people will die on/in school on October 2nd according to the Mayans”.
I take this very seriously, however it is much different than the rumor that is circulating.
Students are saying someone wrote that they were bringing a gun to school tomorrow, or some variation of that, depending on who you talk to.
Please know that we take security very seriously at CHS. We are actively investigating the situation to identify who wrote this message.
We have not been able to confirm that the message was even written today as it was in blue pen on a grey background and difficult to even recognize it was there.
If you or your child has any information please bring it to the attention of the administration.
While I believe the actual threat of violence to be no more than on any other school day, I have taken the liberty of requesting that Cheshire PD provide an increased presence at the building tomorrow.
Sincerely, Jeff Solan Principal Cheshire High School
The Cheshire Police Department wasn't available to comment on how many additional officers will be present at the school on Tuesday.
Editor's note: Cheshire Patch will update the story as new information is gathered.