Lunenburg schools say not to be alarmed at lockdown practice

Published 1:38 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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Yes, it’s likely you’ll hear about a lockdown in all Lunenburg schools this week. But, as the Lunenburg County school district staff point out, it’s intentional. These are planned drills, as officials mentioned in a statement put out over the Labor Day weekend. 

Lunenburg County Public Schools will be conducting drills for lock-down procedures in each of its schools during the week of September 5,” district officials said. “These are just drills.” 

In case you’re wondering why the schools need a lockdown drill, for that you can thank state law. The Code of Virginia orders it, in fact. Section 22.1-137.2 of the Code of Virginia requires that “in every public school, there shall be a lock-down drill at least once during the first 20 school days of each school session, in order that students and teachers may be thoroughly practiced in such drills.” 

And no, this won’t be the only lockdown drills held in the district this semester. The Code calls for at least two more lockdown drills after the first 60 days, so at some point after mid-October. 

Not every class in Lunenburg schools

And while every school has to practice, that doesn’t include every class. All pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes are exempt from the drills held during the first 60 days of school. That’s where the exemption ends. After the first 60 days, the Code leaves it up to the district if kindergarten and pre-K students should take part. 

The district had to put the notice out at least 24 hours before the drills started, as that’s another requirement in the Code. Lunenburg officials also wanted to avoid a situation like the one that happened in August 2022 in Prince Edward County. Nobody informed parents of a routine drug dog drill at Prince Edward High. As a result, rumors of everything from a shooting to a bomb threat spread, with parents showing up to remove children from the situation. Eventually, the Prince Edward school district put out a statement. 

The lockdown drills at Lunenburg schools will be spread throughout the week.