All schools in the Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 went under lockdown for about 45 minutes Wednesday morning after a rumor surfaced that a high school student might be coming to the school with a "bad intent."
Superintendent Alex Carter declined to discuss the specifics of the incident, and administrators and the Cortez Police Department looked into the rumor and determined it was not true.
The "lock out" situation was called at the elementary schools at 8:35 a.m. while students were in class, and students at the high school, in which school started at 9 a.m., had to enter the school through the front doors where two police officers and four school administrators were waiting.
While the high school was where the rumor initiated, administration decided to place all the schools under "lock out," which Carter said is the protocol of the district.
"You don't want to have one school in the dark," he said.
According to an email sent to parents and the Journal from Carter, Cortez police tracked down the source of the rumor by 9:30 a.m. "At that point we directed that all schools in the district to come out of lock out," Carter said in the email.
He added that the high school would continue to operate under heightened security for the remainder of the day as a precautionary measure.
Carter said the silver lining to this incident was it allowed the schools to practice their lockdown procedures.
He said the district needs to able to act quickly to issues like this and was pleased with how everyone responded.
"We have safe schools," he said, before praising the Cortez Police Department for their work and quick response.
The superintendent said while this rumor turned out to be false, he wants students who hear or learn of a potentially dangerous situation to tell an adult.
"It's a bad time of the day to get this type of (incident)," he said. "It's one of those things. We would have done the same thing even if Sandy Hook had not happened."
Attendance at Re-1 schools has been lighter than normal this week. Carter didn't attribute the absenteeism to any single cause, but said residual unease about the events in Connecticut, as well as severe weather, may be factors. The district canceled two bus runs out to Pleasant View Wednesday morning due to the element.
For others, the lure of an early vacation was too strong.
"There's always lower attendance before a holiday," Carter said. "We don't recommend it, and we definitely don't like it, but they like to get an early start."