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Clown costumes banned at Fort McMurray public schools this Halloween

Clown costumes are displayed for sale at a costume shop. YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re a student in Fort McMurray and you planned on dressing as a clown this Halloween, you might be out of luck.

Fort McMurray Public Schools has banned clown costumes from being worn in schools or on school property this Halloween.

In a letter sent home with students on Friday, the superintendent of schools Douglas Nicholls said “we believe strongly that this decision is in the best interest of our students, our staff and our district.”

“As you may be aware, there have been several reports about threats by individuals dressed up as clowns both locally and internationally. Some actions by the people dressed as clowns have resulted in criminal charges,” the letter reads.

“We do not want any uneasiness and additional stress during the Halloween activities.”

On Oct. 3, all 15 Fort McMurray public schools were placed on “hold and secure,” which means students were required to stay inside the school until they were cleared to leave the building.

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Nicholls said the hold and secure was put in place while the RCMP investigated an online post. Once officers found there was no immediate threat, Nicholls said the hold and secure was lifted.

There have been several threats in the Edmonton area over the past several weeks.

Londonderry Junior High School in northeast Edmonton was placed on alert for several hours earlier this month after an alleged clowning threat in the neighbourhood.

Also earlier this month, two teens were charged with uttering threats for online posts involving Harry Ainlay, McNally and J. Percy Page high schools.

READ MORE: 2 teens arrested, charged for online threats against Edmonton high schools

A clown-related incident also caused a scare in Fort Saskatchewan in early October. A 15-year-old boy turned himself in to RCMP in what police called “an error in judgement on the youth’s behalf.

So-called “creepy clown” sightings have spread across more than 20 U.S. states and parts of Canada leading to arrests, school warnings and police investigations.

READ MORE: ‘Creepy Clown’ sightings: Why the epidemic is spreading across Canada and the U.S.

In some cases, clown-related incidents have led to people being charged for making false reports. In Georgia, for example, police said two people were arrested after they called 911 to report that people dressed as clowns were trying to lure children into a white van.

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