With schools on high alert after the Newtown shooting, rumors of a Mayan-predicted "apocalypse" are compounding fears of violence. Three counties in Michigan have been so overwhelmed with addressing the concerns that they've simply decided to close schools two days early for winter break. "We're not doing this because we think there’s an imminent threat to our students. We're doing this because we’ve been doing nothing but policing," a superintendent tells the New York Times.
Rumors were "like 'my niece's neighbor’s daughter says there’s going to be gun violence at school on Friday,'" he said. Still, with students who may be "disenfranchised or unstable" and some people believing in the apocalyptic rumors, "whether I think it’s credible or not ... I’m not going to take that risk." Such concerns have spread from Oregon to Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to Virginia, where a superintendent called the fears "reportedly unfounded and national in scope." Despite earlier doomsday predictions, "never have I seen the climate in our area the way it is right now," says a Michigan police officer. Everyone's "on edge as a direct result of what happened last week." (Read more high school stories.)