Fort McMurray public schools are sending home the clowns.

A letter was sent out to parents last week saying clown costumes would be forbidden on all school property, even over Halloween.

The ban comes in the wake of the creepy clown trend where people dress in costumes and then lurk in public spaces.

The superintendent of the school district, Doug Nicholls, said principals raised the issue last week at a meeting.

"It's a very sensitive time in Fort McMurray," Nicholls told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"There was concern that some students were not reacting well to the whole creepy clown issue. I'm supporting our students, I'm supporting our principals in those observations," he said.

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It's not illegal to dress up as a clown unless you harass or intimidate the public.

Clown sightings have been flooding into police agencies across North America, including Alberta, for the last few months.

Airdrie RCMP have responded to about 10 calls involving suspicious people dressed up as creepy clowns.

While it's not illegal to walk around in costume, intimidating and harassing the public can result in criminal code charges including mischief, causing a disturbance or uttering threats.

Schools want 'caring' environment for students

"Our staff and parents have done an amazing job getting the kids back into school. But we need just a continuation of that positive, warm, caring environment," Nicholls said.

"They've got to know that they're in a space that they're very comfortable in."

Nicholls, who has been in his current role for 10 years, said the Fort McMurray Public School District has never imposed a costume ban before.

"We're not trying to be a leader in any way, we're just trying to deal with the situation we have in hand with our fire and re-entry."

He said parents and teachers will revisit the issue next year to decide if the ban should stay in place indefinitely.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener