Delaware State Police increased its patrols of local schools in Kent and Sussex counties Friday morning in response to rumors swirling on social media that something bad was going to happen on the one-week anniversary of the Sandy Hook (Conn.) Elementary School massacre and the doomsday prediction by the Mayan calendar.
"Troopers on patrol or criminal detectives on duty parked in the parking lots of schools as school buses pulled up or as parents dropped their children off," Delaware State Police Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said. "We did that of our own volition, and there were no overtime costs associated with the move.
"It put people at ease to see troopers on the premises," he said. "We got a lot of well wishes from parents."
Fournier added that the rumors that had circulated on Facebook and Twitter were totally unfounded and baseless.
State Police's move followed the Dover Police Department's deployment of officers to each of the schools in the Capital School District on Monday in order to allay any local fears that developed as a result of the Connecticut tragedy. Dover Police Chief James Hosfelt said the deployments would continue indefinitely.
Local school district officials said things went rather smoothly on Friday.
Caesar Rodney School District Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald thanked parents and the community for sending their children to school today, despite the rumors that have been circulating this week.
"I am pleased to report that our schools operated normally with no problems reported," he said. "I would also like to thank state and local police for their diligence and support. It is impossible to stop and deal with all these rumors and, in these times, it is very sad that there are individuals who will prey on others."
Attendance in the Capital School District was pretty good this week despite
the rumors that dramatically escalated with the event in Connecticut, the Mayan calendar prediction that Friday was the end of the world and all the Facebook chatter, Capital Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas said.
"Obviously the day before a holiday, attendance is always lower," he said. "The attendance today was lower than what would be normal the day before a holiday. However, I have visited a lot of our schools today including Dover High School, Central and William Henry, and the schools were running normal.
Page 2 of 2 - "I commend our administrators, faculty and staff and students for functioning well this week in what has been an excessive national media hype regarding the tragic events last week in Newtown, Connecticut."