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Anne Arundel County public schools reported mass absences on Friday, as many students stayed home on the final day before winter break.
The Capital of Annapolis reported that more than 38 percent of high school students were absent Friday, along with 29.6 percent of middle school students. Last year, just 9.15 percent of county high school students were absent the last day before winter break. In county middle schools, that figure was even lower: 6.6 percent of all students were absent.
Schools spokesman Bob Mosier told the paper that rumors of a school shooting planned for Friday, along with last week's elementary school shooting in Connecticut, likely contributed to the absences.
"Connecticut just took the anxiety level into the stratosphere," Mosier said.
Parents of students at four high schools (Arundel, North County, Northeast, and Old Mill) and one middle school (George Fox) had received letters from principals alerting them to rumors of a planned school shooting on Friday. County police also stepped up their presence around schools Friday, but nothing unusual was reported.