The Burlington and Danville school districts will have extra police presence near their schools on Friday after social media messages popped up nationally declaring Dec. 17 as "American School Shooting Day."
The trend originated on social media platforms, including TikTok, with posts warning about the possibility of nationwide shootings or bomb threats.
Burlington superintendent Pat Coen told The Hawk Eye that the Burlington Police Department and Des Moines County Sheriff's Office have both determined there is no credible threat to area schools. Both agencies will be patrolling schools more closely Friday as a precautionary measure.
On Wednesday, the Burlington School District posted on Facebook that it had received a "fabricated threat to our schools this week" and that the Burlington Police Department had "quickly worked to investigate the claim and ensure no students were at risk or harm."
On Thursday, the district sent an email to parents informing them of the anonymous, nationwide threats to schools.
The Danville School District also addressed the threat in a Facebook post Thursday, stating that the district is aware of the national threat and will have the Des Moines County Sheriff's Department making extra patrols around campus Friday out of an abundance of caution.
Coen said the district initially learned of the threat from a student in the district who had seen the social media posts, with the student telling Burlington police they had seen the posts on TikTok.
Coen stressed that there was no reason to believe any local school was in danger. He said he was confident area law enforcement were taking the situation seriously and would provide adequate protection.
In response to the viral threat, the Iowa State Education Association, Iowa Association of School Boards, and School Administrators of Iowa issued the following joint statement:
"Every student deserves a safe place to learn, and every educator, administrator and school staff member deserves a safe place to do their work.
The social media threat of an 'American School Shooting Day' is appalling. Whether done as a joke or with malicious intent, it’s unacceptable. We know our school personnel will do everything in their power to keep our students safe. They need all of us to stand with them in that effort.
We ask Iowans across the state to support our educators and the students they serve. Community support is important every day and especially when threats of violence and hateful language ricochet around social media."
This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Burlington and Danville schools address viral threat to schools