Tension is still running high on high school and college campuses a week and-a-half after the Virginia Tech shootings. At least two Iowa college campuses have initiated lockdowns, and a couple of public schools today are at the center of a storm of rumors although there’s been no incident or threat. Oskaloosa Superintendent Dr. Carolyn McGaughey says it began Thursday evening when local police contacted her to tell of a rumor that was going around in the community.
Administrators felt it would be best to initiate a “modified lockdown.” School was held today and activities went on just like any normal schoolday, but access to the building was limited to one entrance, the front door. She says staff watch who’s coming and going through that one door. The superintendent says measures were taken to make students, teachers and parents in the community feel the schools were secure.
McGaughey there was some “police presence” on all three campuses — the Oskaloosa high school with its 775 students, the middle school with 550 and an elementary school that has about one-thousand-fifty students. All three campuses were under a “modified lockdown.” McGaughey says it’s a little hard to understand why the rumors flew so thick and fast, since there was nothing to base them on.
“We received no direct threat. Law enforcement in Oskaloosa received no direct threat.” She says the security measures were taken to make people feel safe, and show them the school district was responding to their concerns. School officials in Stuart had the local high school under lockdown today, although Stuart school administrators say there’s nothing wrong.
A brief lockdown Thursday at Upper Iowa University was the result of a misunderstanding. Spokeswoman Sheila Miller says a professor on the Fayette campus had invited a guest speaker to a class today. A plainclothes police officer from the town of Independence arrived to speak to the class, carrying as gun. As he walked across the campus, a student who spotted his gun reported there was an armed man at the school.
The Dean of Student Services called authorities and Miller says she ordered the campus locked down, “to assure the safety of students, faculty and staff.” “It looks like the original announcement was at 11:21, and the all-clear came at 12:40,” Miller says. “Our emergency procedures worked.” The officer involved and the professor who’d invited him on campus were not available for comment.
A student who walked into a University of Iowa classroom wearing a ski mask prompted an alert at the University of Iowa on Thursday and was taken into custody, but administrators today said there will be no punishment and no charges will be filed in the case.