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Covington Catholic Closed, President Trump Weighs In

Covington Catholic is closed on Tuesday.

A statement from the school cited security concerns.

“After meeting with local authorities, we have made the decision to cancel school and be closed on Tuesday, January 22, in order to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Principal Robert Rowe said in the statement, according to WXIX.

“All activities on campus will be cancelled for the entire day and evening. Students, parents, faculty and staff are not to be on campus for any reason. Please continue to keep the Covington Catholic Community in your prayers.”

The school was originally on a two-hour delay Tuesday morning. Multiple school districts in Northern Kentucky are either closed or on delays on Tuesday morning due to very cold early temperatures, which are expected to rise to near 40 during the day.

According to reports, there is a police presence on the school's campus Tuesday morning.

Students from Covington Catholic visited Washington, D.C. for the national March for Life, an annual anti-abortion event, and while they were waiting for their buses to return home, a series of incidents involving the boys, a Native American elder, and Black Hebrew Israelites dominated social media and news coverage since Saturday.

The original short clip that made the rounds portrayed the Covington Catholic students as disrupting and mocking the Native's peaceful drumming while wearing hats and other apparel in support of President Donald J. Trump. 

Later, more video emerged showing the boys as targets of racist and homophobic verbal attacks at the hands of the Black Hebrew Israelites. 

In response to those insults, the Covington Catholic students erupted into their well-known school chants, typically performed as "Colonel Crazies" at sporting events. While the chants were going on, Nathan Phillips, a Native American who had participated in the Indigenous Peoples March, which happened on the same day, approached the boys with his drum.

That dispelled the original video that suggested the boys had approached Phillips and surrounded him.

The Twitter user who uploaded the first short video has been suspended from the platform, according to reports.

Since then, the incidents continue to dominate social media and news coverage as the story evolves. One Covington Catholic student, who had become the main target of criticism against the school as he stood face to face with Phillips during the encounter, released a statement on Sunday contending that he meant no ill will and only remained silent and still in order to calm the situation rather than to try to engage or intimidate Phillips.

On Monday, more students spoke out in a video published on the Twitter account of teen conservative commentator C.J. Pearson.

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On Monday night, President Trump weighed in as well. 

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The Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School issued a statement on Saturday condemning the behavior of their students in D.C., promising an investigation that could culminate in expulsion. The school later sent a message to parents:

"The incident that took place at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. is being fully investigated by an independent third-party investigator. Based upon and following an investigation, we will be taking the appropriate action regarding this matter. Please know that the administration is currently working with the Diocese, local police departments, and local authorities to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Please note that we have been advised should you receive any type of threatening communication, you are asked to contact the local authorities," the message read.

"Thank you for your patience during this most difficult time. Please continue to pray for our community."

Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said that threats against the school would not be taken lightly.

"Threatening acts of violence against educational institutions in Kentucky is a felony and we don’t take it lightly no matter the circumstances," Sanders wrote on Facebook.

A peace vigil is planned outside the Diocese of Covington's offices on Madison Avenue. The event is sponsored by the American Indian Movement of Indiana & Kentucky, and Ohio.

State Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), who is a graduate of Covington Catholic, discussed the controversy on NPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday. He was asked whether he thought there was a learning opportunity for students.

"I have a lot of faith in Covington Catholic to take care of that but what these kids need to know and what America needs to know is, people don't need to be rushing to judgment, and obviously (the students are) on the wrong side of that where they were accused of behaving poorly when I don't think that's nearly the case," Koenig said.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher