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Nationwide TikTok threat has parents, school districts in Spokane on edge

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 16, 2021

The Spokane Public Schools building downtown is shown.  (JESSE TINSLEY)
The Spokane Public Schools building downtown is shown. (JESSE TINSLEY)

An anonymous threat made on TikTok has school districts in Spokane and around the nation on high alert.

The threat, which is also being reported as the “December challenge,” claims that multiple school shootings will happen on Friday.

Some districts say they have been “inundated” with questions about the social media school violence rumors and have responded in letters to parents and public statements in the days leading up to Friday.

The threat is not credible, according to national law enforcement, but districts around the nation and in Spokane County are urging parents to be vigilant.

“Spokane Public Schools will have will have an increased presence across our district out of an abundance of caution,” a spokesperson told The Spokesman-Review Thursday afternoon.

At West Valley School District, Superintendent Kyle Rydell said that the district’s resource deputy “has been in close contact with her team and they are continuing to monitor the situation.”

Emails went out to Spokane Public Schools staff early Thursday afternoon and to families at 4 p.m.

The message emphasized that the threat “did not originate in our school district. We have heard reports from many other districts across the state 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,” the message continued. “We will continue working diligently to preserve the safety of our learning community.”

The message went on to stress the importance of avoiding 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,” the message concluded. “We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.”

Identical messages were sent by several other local districts.

Some school districts say they are planning for an increased police presence on many campuses.

“While we do not anticipate anything in our schools or district, we would be remiss if we were not extra vigilant regarding safety and security at our schools tomorrow as a result of this TikTok challenge,” Magda Parvey, superintendent of Andover Public Schools in Massachusetts, wrote in a letter to parents.

TikTok released a statement via Twitter on Thursday stating that it is cooperating with law enforcement.

“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” the statement said.

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