Rumors on Internet means low attendance on Monday

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With two juveniles in custody and a weekend between them and Friday’s incident, officials from the Switzerland County School Corporation came to school on Monday hoping for a new day and a new start.

They got neither.

Late Sunday night school officials received a report that an anonymous person had left a message on an Internet web site frequented by high school students that said that a “hit list” existed and would be carried out.

Although no list has surfaced, school officials at the high school continued to monitor the situation very closely throughout the day on Monday. Outside doors were locked, with visitors using the intercom system to gain access into the building.

Student movement in the hallways during class periods was monitored, and the school hired additional staff to be in the hallways throughout the day to make sure that the only people in the hallways were those who were supposed to be there.

Superintendent Tracy Caddell said that uniformed officers of the Switzerland County Sheriff’s department were also in the hallways during the school day, but that their presence and the additional staff presence was in place to try and help calm the fears of parents and students, and had been planned prior to the Internet situation on Sunday night.

Principal Candis Haskell spoke to the students in an early morning assembly on Monday, outlining the events of the past days, and setting forth policies that will be followed.

School officials gave no time line for how long the additional staff will be in the hallways, only saying that they will be there “as long as it takes for the students and the parents to feel safe.”

Still, with parents uneasy over the events at the end of last week, around 160 high school students – roughly one-third of the student body – was absent on Monday.

A volleyball game that was to be played in the Switzerland County gym was canceled, but that cancellation was due to a scheduling conflict, not to the situation. The other school did not have a game on its schedule with Switzerland County, and when school officials here called to get the roster for the game programs, the mixup was discovered.

Tuesday saw a return to a more normal school day, with only 90 students being absent. Students moved through their school day, had lunch and were allowed to spend free time in the gym after they ate lunch; and middle school and Jefferson-Craig Elementary students were allowed to go outside on their lunch breaks.

Tuesday was made a bit more nervous by the news of the incident at the Amish School in Pennsylvania, but as students loaded buses to go home on Tuesday, things appeared to be getting back to normal at Switzerland County High School.