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Dec. 21, 2012: Schools fight rumors fueled by Mayan 'doomsday'

Local educators are bracing for possible Internet rumors and concerns related to the Dec. 21, 2012, "doomsday" scenario.

Schools around the nation have been dealing with rumors -- some spread on social media -- of problems related to the so-called doomsday supposedly foretold in the Mayan calendar. Numerous schools in Michigan, in response to the doomsday predictions, closed two days early for the holidays.

On Thursday, Oxnard police responded to Twitter messages that spoke of a possible safety situation at Pacifica High School related to the Mayan calendar. Police told KEYT-TV that there was no threat and, despite some reports, the school was not placed on lockdown.

Newport Harbor High School administrators sent out a message to parents saying rumors about violence planned on the Newport Beach campus Friday are unfounded.

In Newport Beach, officials said they don't know the source of the rumors.

"Several students have expressed concern about coming to school tomorrow, as have some parents," Assistant Principal Jack Cusick said in an email to parents. "I can assure you that my office has looked into these rumors, and no credible threats exist at this time."

The email did not include what the rumors entailed, but Cusick said students may be worried because of recent events such as the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the shooting at Fashion Island on Saturday in which no one was injured.

"We are forced to look for warning signs, and the coming of the so-called 'Mayan Apocalypse' doesn't help," he wrote. "This leads to rumors and more fear, and the whole thing can spin out of control pretty quickly; we all need to make sure that doesn't happen."

Corona del Mar High School was inundated with similar rumors earlier this week and also emailed parents saying there was no credible threat, said Laura Boss, spokeswoman for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Boss declined to discuss specifics of the rumors, saying they had been investigated by police and deemed not credible. 

The district is working closely with police in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach to investigate the rumors, Boss said.


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-- Jeremiah Dobruck, Times Community News

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