Oxford Shooting 'Copycat' Threats Prompt Calls for Michigan Schools to Go Virtual Into 2022

A wave of copycat threats made to schools across Michigan in the weeks following the deadly Oxford shooting has prompted calls for schools in Oakland County to move online until after the winter break.

A change.org petition has garnered more than 10,700 signatures urging school officials to shutter buildings and move classes to a virtual format until after the upcoming break or until all the threats have been thoroughly investigated.

"We are a group of high school students in Oakland County who are concerned about our communities in light of recent events given the way school administrations have been responding," the petition reads.

"Oxford High School experienced the tragic loss of four students due to a school shooting on Tuesday, November 30th," it continues. "Since that day, there has been a continuous circulation of threats made to schools within Oakland County. These widespread threats have induced fear and taken an emotional toll on all students, making in-person learning essentially useless."

The students are demanding that school buildings be closed and that virtual schooling be authorized for the time being. Most Michigan students will be dismissed for the holidays in the next week and a half.

They are also calling for district administrators to "release detailed and concrete plans for keeping students safe in district buildings prior to the return to in-person school."

A spokesperson for Oakland Schools told Newsweek that while independent school district (ISD) is aware of the petition, "any decision to move classes online however is made at the district level."

The ISD, which services 28 districts in the county, said "each district determines independently whether to offer virtual learning."

Oxford School Shooting Virtual Petition Copycat Threats
An online petition is calling for Michigan schools to hold online classes as threats continue following the Oxford High School shooting. A memorial outside of Oxford High School continues to grow on December 3, 2021, in Oxford, Michigan. Scott Olson/Getty

The petition comes two weeks after the shooting at Oxford High School that left four students dead and seven people wounded. Fifteen-year-old Ethan Crumbley has been arrested and charged as an adult with murder and terrorism, among other crimes.

Since the shooting, schools in Michigan have seen a string of copycat threats that have prompted several arrests and even resulted in dozens of charges.

In Wayne County, which neighbors Oakland, County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said charges against 18 young people who have posed various threats to schools in the area are pending.

An analysis by Newsweek also found that 494 school districts across Michigan closed in the week following the November 30 shooting due to the new threats.

Most of the districts have since resumed classes, but students and teachers alike seem fearful to return despite clearance to do so from law enforcement officials.

"I'm signing because I have a high school sophomore that woke me up at 1 am scared to go to school because of what was circulating on social media," one signee wrote.

"I teach in an Oakland County School, I have family members who also teach in Oakland County Schools, and I have family members who attend Oakland County Schools. I am concerned for our safety and lives," another wrote. "We need to get a handle on the current matters, whether real threats or not, because we have no idea who has been inspired by current matters. Most schools are not prepared for an intruder in terms of a plan and we need to reassess."

"I'm scared for my life," a third added.

Update 12/14/21, 2:47 p.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Oakland Schools.