Office of Catholic Schools will ‘err on the side of caution’ to nationwide school threat

The Catholic schools of the Diocese of Peoria will be on a “soft lockdown” on Friday, Dec. 17, due to a viral TikTok post threatening school violence across the United States. Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of the Diocese of Peoria’s 42 Catholic schools, sent an email to the pastors, chaplains, principals and diocesan school communities outlining the situation this afternoon. Her statement follows.

The Office of Catholic Schools has been notified of a viral TikTok post threatening nationwide school violence. The post, which is not directed at any specific school, includes language stating, “school shootings and bomb threats for every school in the USA, even elementary,” on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Dr. Sharon Weiss

This post has been shared with the Illinois State Police Department’s Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center (STIC). They communicated, “several states have reported this threat (that) has been circulating through their school districts. At this time, the STIC currently has no information concerning any threats or attacks planned at Illinois schools.”

For this specific viral nationwide TikTok threat, we will continue to inform our school communities as information is received from state and federal agencies. It is better to “err on the side of caution,” even when there is no evidence of a credible threat in our state; therefore, we ask that all of our diocesan schools implement increased security measures for Friday, Dec. 17, by implementing SOFT LOCKDOWN protocols. A “soft lockdown” is defined as allowing students to move freely throughout the building during the day, but no activity is to occur outside the building such as recess or PE, etc. In addition, security measures that our schools regularly enforce regarding entrance and exit of the building (with all outside doors locked and proper identification given to be admitted into the school) will continue to be followed.

We would also ask that parents, students, and community members report any threats or suspicious social media activity to their school pastors, chaplains, and/or administrators who will confer with their local law enforcement agencies and the Office of Catholic Schools.

The Diocese of Peoria is fully committed to ensuring that our schools and our classrooms are safe learning environments. May the intercession and protection of St. Michael the Archangel give us peace and comfort during these times in which we live.

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