Officials will step up security at Newington schools on Halloween after the district received threats from extremists groups in light of a decision to cancel costume parades at two elementary schools.
The Newington Board of Education convened a special meeting Wednesday night the night after the district received threats from "national extremist groups" in light of a decision to cancel Halloween parades at Ruth Chaffee and Anna Reynolds elementary schools, according to superintendent Dr. William Collins.
Collins wrote a letter to families clarifying that Halloween celebrations at school were never canceled altogether and that costumes will be permitted at after-school activities but not during school hours.
Board members in favor of no costumes and no parades cited the time it takes away from learning.
“It’s not just about a half hour parade,” said Beth McDonald. “It’s about the anticipation and distraction leading up to it.”
Those opposed argued in favor of tradition and lobbied to let kids just be kids. They attended the meeting wearing black-and-orange ribbon stickers in support of the spooky holiday.
“You have to understand the importance of holidays to children and their families,” said Karen Petersen.
The decision to ban costumes during the school day has sparked controversy around the country. Collins said he has received threatening calls from as far away as Washington state, prompting the request to beef up police security on Friday.
Collins said extra patrols will keep an eye on the town's four elementary schools.
"The threats I received are in no way meant to harm any of our children," Collins said.
The board apologized Wednesday for its timing and the way the ban was communicated to parents. Board members promised improved communication going forward.