Rumors of weapons being brought to Fort Scott High School and a possible shooting are causing concern among parents, students and USD 234 staff.
The rumor has also resulted in a student being detained, but not arrested, according to school and police officials.
In a letter to students, staff and parents, Superintendent Diane Gross sought to reassure Fort Scottians.
"Earlier this week," the letter said, "there were a few incidents that our staff, with the assistance of state police, the fire department, and local police, have investigated and addressed -- they continue to monitor and investigate. I will share that there was a prank phone call to 911 by a first-grade student that resulted in state police, firemen and police showing up to Winfield Scott (Elementary School). The student and parents have been addressed.
"A second incident occurred when there was conversation taking place amongst students at the Keyhole (a youth gathering place across from the high school) on Monday afternoon/evening that was overheard by a school administrator. Students were discussing how they had heard that a student was talking about bringing weapons to school on Friday and shooting students and staff.
"This matter was investigated by administration at the high school and Fort Scott police. A student was identified as having made threats and has been detained by police. This matter is in the hands of the police with the student presently not attending.
"There has been continued talk amongst students and community members with a lot of discussion occurring through Facebook and/or other social media. Rather than believing everything that is posted through social media, I would encourage patrons, parents and students to visit with staff of the school and of the district.
"I will share correspondence when I can about these kinds of issues through emails, notes home to parents, face-to-face meetings and/or presentations with the media. Please don't hesitate to contact me or the building principals," Gross wrote.
"I can assure you that our staff members, with the assistance of local authorities, continue to be diligent in their duties and vigilant of monitoring the classrooms, schools and grounds. We have increased police presence in and around the schools and have restricted access to the schools. Additionally, we are increasing the presence of staff and police for upcoming activities (particularly at the high school) as we will not ignore concerns that come to us," the letter said.
The incidents come on the heels of a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults were killed. The rumored incident on Friday locally also ties in with the prognostication of the Mayan calendar that today marks the end of the world.
Interim Fort Scott Police Chief Travis Shelton said no arrests have been made in the matter.
"We're trying to investigate and find leads, but we have not found anybody that has been a direct threat to the school, or the safety of students," Shelton said.
Lt. Shaun West said he would encourage anyone with credible information or concerns to call the police, the school or the board office. "Anyone with a valid concern should always call our office and we will be diligent in following up," West said.
The elementary schools closed for Christmas break Thursday afternoon and Fort Scott Middle and high school students will be dismissed today for the holidays.
"The whole country is on heightened alert," Shelton said. "Just to ease people's minds, or make people a little more comfortable, we're trying to be seen, or be a little bit more visible around the schools."