ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — School districts around southwest and central Virginia are continuing with their safety efforts following recent incidents of firearms being reported at schools. According to officials, one of the most important things people can do to help protect students and staff is to speak up about threats.
On Monday, Aug. 29, the Lynchburg Police Department announced that a minor accused of trespassing at E.C. Glass High School and shouting that he had a firearm in his possession was arrested.
That same day, school officials in a neighboring locality discovered that a student brought a BB pistol — which was modified to look like a handgun — into the Amherst Education Center.
Amherst County Public Schools Superintendent William Wells credits the people who spoke up to staff members for the safety of the students and teachers.
“We became aware through people contacting us and letting us know that the situation had occurred,” Wells said.
“It takes all of us working together to do this, and if they hear of something or know of something in the community that might impact the schools, to please notify us so we can be aware of it, and that way we can take appropriate action if need be.”
In another part of southwest Virginia, Roanoke City Public Schools just started classes on Tuesday, Aug. 23 and hasn’t seen any incidents so far, but officials say they plan to put a 24/7 tip line in place over the coming weeks.
“Families, students, or the community will be able to text, email, or place a phone call and then that is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that we can make sure we are aware of any situations that come in that need immediate assistance,” explained the district’s chief communications and community engagement officer, Kelly Sandridge.
Sandridge encourages members of the Roanoke City Schools community to reach out if they have firearms in their homes. She says it’s important that those guns stay locked up so students cannot access them.
Both Roanoke City and Amherst County officials say that school safety begins at home.
“Have some of those conversations because really, these things are coming from home, for the most part, one way or the other,” said Wells. “Check on your kids, get involved, go through their bags, go through their social media.”
Wells adds that people can call or message Amherst County Public Schools anonymously to share tips.
School officials also ask parents to make sure students are aware of the code of conduct as they continue classes this school year.