New Haven Public School district is prohibiting clown costumes and any other "symbols of terror" during this year's Halloween season because of the fear a creepy clown craze sweeping social media is instilling.
Officials from the district said Monday they are working with the New Haven Police Department to investigate the authenticity of a number of clown-related Instagram posts that they learned about that day.
While there is no indication these posts pose any real threat to the city's school district, administrators said they are taking the incidents very seriously.
"We are considering this to be nothing more than a prank and harassment fueled by social media and upcoming Halloween," Supt. Garth Harries said during a news conference Tuesday. "Working with the police department and our own security team, we have no evidence that there is a credible threat to students or schools in the district."
During the news conference, the superintendent was asked about any incidents in town and he said some students were playing with a clown mask near a school and the administrator took the mask and contacted the students' parents.
New Haven students are being told to avoid wearing clown costumes or clown masks, even as a joke, to avoid even the perception of a threat.
"Any incident in which a student is found with clown-like apparel or other costumes that are perceived to be threatening given this context will be handled on a case-by-case basis," Harries said. "We are encouraging and asking parents to be our partners in this and help ensure that students are not getting clown masks or going to school with clown masks or wearing clown-like attire for their own safety and also for their overall school climate."
Harries said local school officials have no reason to believe these incidents are organized or connected with similar incidents around the country, but they have reached out to Instagram about getting the concerning account removed.
Various U.S. towns have been stepping up patrols as the creepy clown craze stays steady. In August, children in South Carolina reported seeing multiple clowns lurking in the woods and showing them money.
Twelve people were arrested across Georgia, Alabama and Virginia in the past two weeks for making false reports of clown threats or chasing people while costumed, authorities said on various county police Facebook posts, NBC News reports.
Sightings and hoaxes have spread to more than a dozen states, including New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania in September and have led to elementary, middle schools and high schools being shut down in Ohio and added police patrols in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, according to NBC News.
On Monday, two teens in New Jersey were arrested for allegedly making threatening social media posts about clown attacks at students and residents in the town. Another 13-year-old girl, on the same day, was posting threatening comment with a clown account.
Harries said they believe that the incidents happening in New Haven are teen pranks, copycats or a hoax that's gotten out of hand.