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Mayan Apocalypse Scare Prompts Barrington Schools To Heighten Security

File Photo (Ian Waldie/ Getty Images)

File Photo (Ian Waldie/ Getty Images)

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BARRINGTON, Ill. (STMW) – School officials for northwest suburban Barrington School District 220 say they are just playing it safe.

Real safe.

With the massacre of 20 school children in Newtown, Conn. still vivid and circulating rumors of possible violence at district schools, officials say they are increasing security Friday – the same day ancient Mayans predict the world will end.

“You have this legend of the end of the world occurring on Friday and that’s one week following the tragedy (at Sandy Hook Elementary). People connect the two quite literally,” district spokesman Jeff Arnett said on the eve of the forecasted apocalypse. “A lot of schools across the country … are dealing with a lot of student stories and rumors dealing with this supposed Mayan legend about the end of the world.”

With classes letting out for the holiday break on Friday, Arnett said the district expects more visitors than normal because many classrooms will be holding holiday parties.

All who enter schools throughout the K-12 district can expect added attention paid to visitors’ ID cards, keeping track of students and vigorous patrols of school buildings on Friday.

Security measures, Arnett said, will not include metal detectors or pat-downs.

The increased focus on security came after a significant number of students and parents have reported hearing rumors — all of them unfounded — that someone may bring a gun to one of the district’s 13 schools.

“There’s a fear out there that someone is bent on making sure the world ends. Parents are on edge,” Arnett said. This “is an opportunity for us to reinforce safety and security in school.”

Last week a dance at Barrington High School was canceled in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre after rumors circulated that a student was going to bring a gun.

“We just want to assure everyone our schools are safe … every measure has been taken into consideration,” Arnett said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)