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School district warns of social media ‘safety threat’

The challenge has been organized on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook in attempts to cancel school on Dec. 17.|

On Thursday, Sonoma Valley Unified School District officials sent out a letter to families with a warning about online posts that seek to cancel school by calling in “safety threats” on Friday, Dec. 17.

The district plans to have students and staff on campus at all of its schools Friday, and say they are monitoring the situation and working closely with law enforcement.

“As of today, Dec. 16, 2021, the schools of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District have not received any credible threats,” the letter from Superintendent Dr. Adrian Palazuelos stated, “and we plan to have students and staff on campus tomorrow as planned.”

Social media posts have circulated across TikTok, Instagram and Facebook nationwide, the school district’s letter said. But none of the posts concerning this trend reference Sonoma Valley’s schools or community at-large.

Nonetheless, the school district and police are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of students on Friday.

“We will follow our established safety protocols regarding safety concerns, which include reporting to the Sonoma Police Department to investigate and determine the next steps to keep students and staff safe,” Palazuelos wrote. “The Sonoma Police Department has confirmed that tomorrow they will have deputies provide an active presence around all district campuses and within our community.”

The school district said that all threats would be taken seriously, while encouraging parents to talk to their children regarding the “influence” and “potential consequences” of social media.

If the school district was not clear enough about how seriously they are taking this online trend, it also issued a warning: “Students who participate in any threatening behavior will be subject to school-level disciplinary consequences and reporting to law enforcement.”

In recent weeks, several bomb threats were lobbed at Petaluma schools, including Casa Grande High School and Kenilworth Junior High School. While campuses were evacuated, no threat materialized.

Contact Chase Hunter at chase.hunter@sonomanews.com and follow @Chase_HunterB on Twitter.

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