SCPS: ‘no immediate danger’ from shooting rumors

Published 2:05 pm Monday, December 13, 2021

Surry County Public Schools students and staff are in “no immediate danger,” despite rumors that a school shooting would occur Monday, according to Superintendent Dr. Serbrenia Sims.

A video showing a student with a weapon and ammunition had circulated on social media over the weekend, prompting an investigation by the Surry County Sheriff’s Office.

“Based on the Sheriff’s investigation and intervention with the student in the video, it was determined that any potential threat had been nullified,” Sims stated in a Dec. 13 letter to parents the school system released, also via social media, shortly after 12:30 p.m.

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The letter did not identify the student by name or grade level, nor state whether the potential threats had been directed toward a specific school.

“School disciplinary action along with possible law enforcement action will be taken as appropriate,” it states.

Sims had posted to the school system’s Facebook page earlier that morning that she’d learned of the video Sunday evening, but “based on the timely actions of the Sheriff’s Office” decided to open Surry’s three public schools “with multiple safety measures in place.” Sims also opted not to use Surry’s instant alert call system to warn parents ahead of the start of the school day — prompting a backlash from many on Facebook in response.

“If we are expected to trust the school with our children’s safety, then our school system needs to trust us,” Kristen Kunkle Rickmond commented on the SCPS post. “That means relaying detailed information to parents and guardians as the situation unfolds, as opposed to after the children are already in school, and the situation has been ‘handled.’ Let US decide if we feel comfortable sending our children to school.”

“Not happy I’m finding this out on Facebook after my daughter is already at school!” commented Jessica Gwaltney Bardsley, another parent.

According to Sims’ letter, SCPS will count any Monday absences due to parents keeping students at home or picking them up from school out of an abundance of caution as “excused.”

“I think we are all attempting to remain hyper-alert in light of recent disturbing trends across the country … I appreciate your willingness to continually trust us with your children,” Sims writes. “We will continue to make every effort to provide them with a safe and caring environment while in our schools.”