Visit by deputies sparks concern at Prince Edward County High

Published 12:07 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

FARMVILLE – There was no active shooter at Prince Edward County High Wednesday morning. The sight of multiple sheriff’s deputies and the canine unit sparked concern with parents, who called both The Herald and the school district’s office, wanting to know what was going on. The answer involved a previously routine drill, but one that thanks to the pandemic, hadn’t happened in the last two years. 

“There was a drug search conducted by the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Department at the high school and the CTE building,” said Prince Edward Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson. “This is a routine protocol for our secondary schools and usually occurs at least twice a year.” 

This drug search happened Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. In a statement also sent out to parents of high school students, Johnson explained the searches are coordinated through the sheriff’s department and are unannounced, random and conducted with the K-9 unit. 

This is the first one, however, since 2019. 

“Because of COVID-19, the searches were not conducted the last two years,” Johnson said. 

She added that nothing was discovered during the search and instruction wasn’t disrupted for any of the classes.

The Herald reached out to the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office for comment, but they declined. Instead, they directed us to the school district’s statement.

You can read more about the sheriff’s anti drug programs here.

Going by the code

While some residents thought there was an active shooter on campus Wednesday, others wondered if it was a drill. Actually, Prince Edward County Schools has already held their lockdown or active shooter drill for the beginning of this semester. Others will be happening within the next two months, however. 

The Code of Virginia § 22.1-137.2. requires every public school to hold a lockdown drill within the semester’s first 20 days. Then they have to hold at least two additional drills after the first 60 days of each school session. 

Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are exempt from the practice, at least during the first 60 days of the school session.

Lockdown drills are exercises students and educators practice in the event that an intruder gains access to the school building or a threat is administered. These drills aim to remove students and school staff from the threat and keep the threat isolated from as many areas of the school as possible. 

Each school handles lockdown drills differently. Some administer either announced or unannounced active shooter drills, while others stick with classroom door lockdown drills without any simulation.