HILLSVILLE, Va. — Carroll County, Virginia, students attending the county’s high school here will soon find themselves walking through a metal detector.
“In an effort to continue the safety of the staff and students at Carroll County High School, we will practice using a walk-through metal detector at various times throughout the remainder of the year just as we practice fire and lockdown drills,” said Principal Chuck Thompson in a voicemail left on parents’ and students’ phones. “Please do not be alarmed as we practice these drills.”
Thompson said the Carroll County district purchased the metal detector after an incident in 2016 in which the Sheriff’s Department responded there on an anonymous tip of weapons on a bus. At the time, students were searched electronically by a student resource officer as they entered the school the morning of the threat. Students’ bags were also checked. Fortunately, no threat was found at the time.
Separate bomb threats were made at Patrick County High School in Stuart, Virginia, on Jan. 26 and at Bassett High School in Bassett, Virginia, on Jan. 29, but Thompson said his outreach message and the decision to practice using the walk-through metal detector were unrelated to those incidents.
“We have a metal detector, and we need to understand how to better be prepared to use it in case we ever come across a situation where we need to use it,” Thompson said. “We have 1,100 students, and getting that many students through the metal detector and still not take away from any class time — we just want to go through our procedures to make sure we are doing it efficiently yet thoroughly.”
The principal said the metal detector can be used by any school in the Carroll County school division. It is small enough that it can be transported from school to school if necessary.
“We are certainly hopeful we don’t have to use it, but we need to practice using it,” Thompson said. “We want to think of our school as an inviting place. When you walk through metal detectors on a daily basis, it doesn’t seem like an inviting place, and we would hate to ever get to that point. But we do need to practice, just like with fire drills. Could you imagine having a fire and never having had any fire drills? Then you are there in an emergency situation and chaos ensues.”
Thompson said as of Wednesday, the school had not yet practiced using the walk-through metal detector. He said the outreach call was sent so students and parents would be aware of the situation and would not panic when the metal detector drill is practiced.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN.