MISSOULA — A threat to school safety across the United States including here in Western Montana has put schools on high alert.
WCPO in Cincinnati says that the challenge, which dubs Friday as "National Shoot Up Your School Day," encourages students to make threats of violence against their school.
The threats have not been deemed credible by any law enforcement agencies.
Despite that, there are numerous reports of an increased police presence at many schools across the country.
The reaction has been described as precautionary at many districts.
The Florence Carlton School District announced Friday classes were canceled and that when they return Monday, there could be added law enforcement patrols.
The Hamilton School District posted on their social media that the threat did not originate from local school districts but rather appears to be part of a national Tik Tok trend.
Hamilton schools say they have been in contact with the police and may have increased police presence in their schools Friday as an added precaution.
Meanwhile, Corvallis Superintendent Jon Konen stated in a letter to parents that the district has been in contact with the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office and "may have an increased police presence in our buildings on Friday as an added precaution."
Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton said Thursday evening that plans are in place to deal with the widely reported TikTok challenge that encourages students to threaten school violence.
He says the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office, the Hamilton Police Department, the Stevensville Police Department and the Darby Marshal's Office "are working together to provide a significant law enforcement presence at all school campuses."
Missoula County Public Schools sent a letter regarding the threat on Thursday afternoon stating, "the district has been in contact with the Missoula Police Department regarding this issue. We may have an increased police presence around our District on Friday as an added precaution."
Dear MCPS Families,
MCPS has become aware of a troubling post that has been shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety “for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, December 17.
The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district. We have heard of no direct threat to any MCPS schools, however out of an abundance of caution we are notifying you. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously.
Additionally, the district has been in contact with the Missoula Police Department regarding this issue. We may have an increased police presence around our District on Friday as an added precaution.
This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.
If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify a school staff member or trusted adult right away.
As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.
Other school districts across Montana are also responding to the threat.
Casey Bertram, interim superintendent for Bozeman Schools, said in an email to families that the district is working with law enforcement and closely monitoring the situation but does not believe the threat to be credible.
The Great Falls Police Department is working with the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, the Great Falls Public School District, and Cascade County rural school districts about the rumors.
Additional law enforcement will be present at schools in Billings and Lockwood on Friday while the Blackfeet Tribe has decided to close all schools on the reservation.
Glacier High School in Kalispell is also taking action due to an online threat, although it is not clear if its response is directly related to the Tik Tok situation. A "soft lockdown" is in place for Thursday and Friday.