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Letters aimed at quelling doomsday fears

By PAMELA GOULD

School superintendents in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties have sent letters to parents in an effort to tamp down ongoing rumors of threats of violence and the end of the world.

“As with any threat, we take them seriously and are working with the law enforcement and staff to investigate and maintain campus safety,” Spotsylvania County school Superintendent Scott Baker said in his letter. “In our communication with law enforcement, we are aware that these rumors are nationwide and are unfounded.”

Additional deputies will be at schools on Friday, the day linked to the doomsday rumors that have been circulating nationwide, Baker said.

Stafford Superintendent Randy Bridge’s letter also called the rumors “unfounded” and said sheriff’s deputies would have an “enhanced presence” at schools through Friday.

Friday is a regular school day. Afterward, students will be on break until classes resume on Jan. 2.

Massaponax High Principal Joseph Pisani sent a letter to parents Tuesday, asking for their assistance in discouraging rumors. He said the school had tracked down the perpetrators of some rumors and noted that such behavior can result in discipline under the division’s code of conduct.

Stafford Sheriff Charles Jett said his office wants to be informed of actual threats, but urged residents to “help stop the rumors spreading throughout our community by refusing to share these rumors with others.”

Earlier this week, the Spotsylvania school division posted information on the home page of its website about “How to Talk to Children About Rumors of the World Ending.” It suggested parents utilize a NASA site to familiarize themselves with the rumors and why they are unfounded.

That website is nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012 .html. It provides answers to frequently asked questions including whether scientists believe the world will end on Friday, as the rumors state.

NASA answered: “For any claims of disaster or dramatic changes in 2012, where is the science? Where is the evidence? There is none, and for all the fictional assertions, whether they are made in books, movies, documentaries or over the Internet, we cannot change that simple fact. There is no credible evidence for any of the assertions made in support of unusual events taking place in December 2012.”

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

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