Safety precautions make last day of semester closed campus
At 9 a.m. today, Thursday, Dec. 20, RBHS principal Mark Maus sent an email to faculty detailing the preparations being made to protect CPS high school students and teachers during tomorrow’s school day.
The email said rumors surfaced regarding a potential violent act Friday, Dec. 21.
Although the email said the district “doesn’t believe any faculty, staff or students are in harm’s way,” precautions are being taken tomorrow at RBHS, Hickman High School, the Columbia Area Career Center and Douglas High School.
A later email to RBHS faculty from Maus, sent at 12:01 p.m., describes the safeguards against a potential shooter. While the north, south and front doors will be open before school, access to RBHS after the first tardy bell will be restricted to the north doors. The southwest CACC doors will also remain open.
“My understanding is that there will have multiple increased patrols by the Columbia Police Department,” Maus said.
The administration instructed teachers to deliver an announcement to students during third period today explaining the situation. The statement included information about the plans for a closed campus. Despite the changes in tomorrow’s school day, the faculty still wants students to come to classes and take finals.
“I’m hoping students attend school as though it’s a regular day of classes,” CACC director Linda Rawlings said, “and that this doesn’t deter their wanting to learn.”
Hallsville and Ashland students, however, will not be at CACC classes. Before today, students from those districts had planned to attend even though their schools are no longer in session. Students are encouraged to come tomorrow to finish the semester’s work. RBHS junior Hannah Cajandig said the safety precautions may be excessive.
“I understand where they’re coming from,” Cajandig said. “But if there is really a serious danger, then why would they let us come to school at all?”
The second email from Maus stated that guidance counselors will be available to support students tomorrow if they feel stressed with the supposed end of the world. Also, he wrote that the faculty is “willing to administer finals to students who are absent” during the first week of second semester.
Maus said the school shooting which occurred last Friday in Connecticut has of course increased awareness of violence in schools, but he said he sees little connection between the supposed Maya apocalypse and the threats of violence.
“I don’t know if the Mayan calendar is playing into it,” Maus said. “I haven’t seen a lot of stuff on Twitter about it.”
Still, students will be asked to sign in and out when coming through the north doors during school. There is also the potential for searches of students, the letter to parents noted, though Maus said this is not a change to normal policy.
An additional police officer will also be present in the north lot.
Although the RBHS attendance secretaries had no comment on any projected deviations form normal attendance, some students said they may not be willing to come to school regardless of all the precautions.
“If there’s some kind of threat,” Cajandig said, “I’m not coming to school.”
For more specific information from Dr. Chris Belcher, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, listen here.
By Sophie Whyte and Brett Stover
Additional Reporting by John Gillis
Updated at 3:00 p.m. A letter was sent home to parents regarding the situation.