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Addressing rumors: No credible threat to safety at Willamette High

3 p.m. (12/03/2021)

Dear Bethel community,

Included below is an update regarding several rumors that were circulating on social media, and within our school community, about a threat of violence towards Willamette High School.

First, I want to assure you that there is no credible threat of violence toward Willamette or any other Bethel school.

On Thursday afternoon (12/2/2021), Willamette staff were alerted of a concerning conversation that took place between two students on the Willamette campus, during which one student mentioned the word “gun.” We are grateful for our partnership with the Eugene Police Department that immediately jumped into action to investigate and determined on Thursday that there was no credible, ongoing threat. As part of the investigation, the student was identified and contacted by Eugene Police and the situation was resolved.

On Friday morning, a number of rumors posted on social media, combined with an accidental fire alarm pull at Willamette, prompted panic among students and families, with some students leaving school for the day. There was no lockdown at Willamette High School on Friday.

This panic also prompted families to call the school for more information. The amazing front office staff at Willamette worked to quickly respond but were unable to take every phone call due to the sheer number of calls they were receiving. Important information, including updates as they happen, will always be posted on the Willamette High School website and is one of the quickest ways that families can access important information.

We recognize the events like these – regardless of whether there’s a credible threat – can have an impact on families, especially in light of events that took place earlier this week at Oxford High School in Michigan. During times like this, our students will look to the adults in their lives for support and guidance on reacting to and processing tragedy. Below are some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP):

  • Reassure students that they are safe.
  • Provide developmentally appropriate, clear, and straightforward explanation of the event (refer to Dan’s student-facing messages from earlier this morning).
  • Be a good listener
  • Provide various ways for students to express emotion, such as through journaling, letter writing, make a collage, or music.
  • Observe student’s emotional state
  • Focus on resiliency as well as compassion of others.

Additionally, we recognize that social media channels played a large role in propelling inaccurate information which made students feel unsafe and even prompted some to leave school. We want to reassure families that schools are safe and welcoming environments. If you have any outstanding concerns or questions please feel free to contact the Bethel School District at 541-689-3280.

KEZI News report: No ongoing threat at Willamette High School”

Eugene Police Department Statement