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UPDATED: Middle School in 'Secure Mode' for Remainder of Friday

This action is being taken for "peace of mind" due to information shared by a staff member about an adult family member who does not live in this area, said NMS Principal Jeff Pesta.

Northfield Middle School is in a "secure mode" for the remainder of Friday as a precautionary measure.

Principal Jeff Pesta told Patch the concern has to do with a staff member and someone associated with that person, but declined to say more as to not identify the staffer. He said the person in question is not in the Northfield area, but that he or she may want to come see the staffer at the school. 

“It’s someone who doesn’t have any business here as far as we’re concerned as a school,” he said. “Based on the information I have, I would do the same thing (again). The difference this week is we’re making sure people know about it because we don’t want to fuel any rumors.”

Pesta said a secure campus approach is typically used few times a year, usually put in effect because of rumors, tips or other concerns.

In a typical day, Pesta said all doors to the middle school are locked except for the front entrance. He said the front entrance isn’t ideal, as it's a big entrance and anyone can walk in—unlike some other schools with fewer front doors or where a visitor may have to be buzzed into the building.

So for the remainder of Friday, the front doors will be locked and someone will be stationed at the door to let visitors into the school.

Because of national tension since last week’s school shooting in Connecticut, Pesta said it was prudent to alert parents of today's actions.

"We've done it before. The difference this week is putting it out there ... making sure all the families know about it," he said.

The following was sent to parents of students at the Northfield Middle School from Pesta via the school district's alert system.

NMS Families: 

The purpose of this message is to inform parents and guardians that the middle school campus will be in a secure mode for the remainder of the school day.  School operations are business as usual with the exception of a secure main entrance.  We have a staff greeter positioned there to screen guests before they enter the school today.   This action is being taken for "peace of mind" due to information shared by a staff member about an adult family member who does not live in this area.  This situation does not involve any other students or staff members.  Our staff is working directly with law enforcement agencies to reduce any further reason for concern.  This week, schools across the country have had an increased sense of security to reassure students, staff, and families.  We believe that this measure makes good sense to insure that everyone at the middle school is able to focus on a great final day prior to the break.  I wish your family the very best over the holiday season and into the new year! 

Jeff Pesta, Principal

On Wednesday, a possible threat, which turned out to be a rumor, according to authorities, was investigated at Northfield High School.

Superintendent Chris Richardson told Patch that the school district requested Northfield Police to have a presence around the district's schools on Monday following last week's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

Other Minnesota districts have been dealing with rumors of threats this week as well, including Spring Lake Park High School, Hibbing High School and the Red Wing School District.

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Kathy Phillipsen December 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
An adult family member of who? And not in the area? They are taking precautions which is good but the letter is a bit confusing.
EasyE December 21, 2012 at 03:30 PM
It is a bit confusing...understand about precautions, but hopefully something can be done so kids aren't going to school and being afraid or overwhelmed because of security. Our freedom isn't free anymore because the government takes stuff away because of certain idiots! On that note: Happy Holidays and Peace to everyone!
Corey Butler Jr. December 21, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I've updated the story with more from Principal Jeff Pesta.
Chris Israel December 21, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Does this have anything to do with the "non threat" made towards the High School that was supposed to occur today?
Brit Hall December 21, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Maybe brush up on your communication skills just a little bit.
Corey Butler Jr. December 21, 2012 at 04:44 PM
No, there is not a connection.
Chris Israel December 21, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Good to know, thanks.
Corey Butler Jr. December 21, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Brit, the initial post only had the email sent to parents. I updated the story after Principal Pesta and I were able to connect on the phone.
Rhonda December 21, 2012 at 05:46 PM
1. I felt Mr. Pesta's email to parents was clear. I am a middle school parent and I immediately understood what the situation was. 2. In light of the (potential) situation, is posting this information on The Patch (which filters to other social media such as facebook) really a prudent thing to do? The potential threatening person could now be aware of the precautions now in place and while this may deter the (potential) person altogether, it may also move the (potential) person to take a different approach to the (potential) matter. Maybe good. Maybe bad. 3. In other words, I believe this matter should only be between school officials, affected parents, and law enforcement at this point. It should not be a matter of public news.

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