Washington: All public schools in the Los Angeles area have been closed due to an unspecified "electronic" threat, affecting over 660,000 students in one of the largest School District in the US, officials said today.
Authorities decided to close the entire school system after it received a "credible threat" of violence involving "backpacks and packages" left at school campuses, officials said at a press conference.
"Earlier this morning we did receive an electronic threat that mentions the safety of our schools," said Steven Zipperman, chief of the Los Angeles school police department. New York City officials said they received a similar threat to their schools today but it was not deemed credible.
"There is no credible threat to our children. We are absolutely convinced that our schools are safe," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Ramon Cortines, superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), said the shutdown was ordered after authorities alerted him to a threat "made to not just one school, but many schools in this school district".
The complete shutdown of public schools in Los Angeles come just days after the December 2 attacks in nearby San Bernardino by a Pakistani-origin couple that killed 14 people. "I think it's important to take this precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past," said Cortines.
Zipperman also stressed that the unprecedented decision to close all public schools was an extreme "precautionary" measure taken in view of the recent terror attack in San Bernardino.
"All LAUSD schools are closed to ensure safety of students," said school system said on its website. The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest school system in the US with more than 660,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and 250,000 in adult education program. It has more than 900 schools, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigating is looking into the threat and still analysing it. "The threat is still being analysed. We have chosen to close our schools today until we can be sure our campuses are safe," Zipperman said.
Schools would remain closed until the threat was cleared, officials added.
Yesterday, classes were also cancelled at San Bernardino Valley College because of a bomb threat and staff and students were sent home in the evening.