ARLINGTON, Va. — Classes are canceled at Wakefield High School on Friday, officials announced Thursday evening. This comes after video showed the scary moments Arlington County Police officers searched classrooms while carrying long guns during a temporary lockdown Thursday.
"We will keep the building open during normal hours to provide counseling services and mental health support for students and staff who may need help processing this week’s incidents," Arlington Public Schools (APS) said. "CIGNA Employee Assistance Program (EAP) staff will also be available onsite for additional staff support. Buses will run on the normal schedule to ensure all students who need support can access it. Breakfast and grab-and-go meals will be provided for students."
APS reported a lockdown on Twitter, asking parents to stay where they are and not to come to the school while the police investigation was underway. There was a large police presence outside the school during the investigation after a report of a trespasser on campus.
A video shared by a student inside the high school shows police with long guns entering classrooms.
Arlington County Police told WUSA9 that they received calls about an alleged trespasser, but that after conducting a search through the campus, they did not find anyone.
The lockdown was lifted and students were released at 3:10 p.m. Police say no one was taken into custody but that they are still interrogating witnesses.
Thursday's lockdown is not helping relieve the concerns and stress from parents. They're already upset about a different incident just two days ago – when classes were dismissed early because a student overdosed.
Families say more needs to be done to keep their children safe.
Freshman Jose Castillo, 15, was emotional as his mother wrapped her arms around him.
"I feel really happy reuniting with my mom after being on lockdown for three hours," Jose said. "She was crying when I was calling her."
Worried parents waiting outside of schools to hear about what's going on with their kids is an all-too-common sight.
"Parent instinct and try to get in to make sure your child is alright," said parent Romeo Mendez. "They're afraid and they're just under the table right now."
This is the second time police have been called to the high school this week after the discovery of an unconscious student in a school bathroom prompted an early release from classes Tuesday, and a drug overdose investigation.
According to a letter for families from Wakefield principal Dr. Chris Wilmore, a student was found unconscious in a bathroom Tuesday morning. Staff called for medical assistance and the student was taken to an area hospital for help by EMS.
Arlington Police later identified the student as a teen boy, who is in critical condition, and said four other students were evaluated by medics at the school.
"I'm surprised that this happened two days after the overdose of five kids," said Julio Basurto of the community advocacy group Juntos En Justicia. "I would think security would have stepped up to make sure there's no more threats inside the school, but it looks like nothing has changed."
Since the overdose, Basurto said he's held an emergency meeting with more than 100 parents. They want more safety efforts in place and better communication from schools.
"The concerns have to do with usage in the bathrooms, classrooms and hallways and also lack of security," Basurto said.
In a message to parents, Arlington County Public Schools Superintendent, Francisco Duran addressed the growing safety and security concerns.
"Each school has a school crisis management team including school administrators and designated staff, as well as student services personnel who are the primary points of contact to respond to threatening behavior," said Duran in his statement.
Thursday after school was released two students that asked not to be identified say they want improved communication with the student body, telling WUSA9, "We just need to find a way better outreach for the students, like before the problems happen, and not just issuing a state apologizing for everything."
Another student saying that both the drug related emergency and the alleged trespasser incident were not being addressed by the administration.
"Statements are nothing but words, what people want to hear is some action. We are tired of what is going on and we expect more from the school. From one of the most richest schools, and all you can do is set up a little room to talk to someone," said the student.
There is a school board meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
WUSA9 has been told the superintendent is expected to talk about the incidents during his remarks. Parents are also holding a silent march Friday at noon. Originally it was to encourage students not to use drugs, but after Thursday, it will likely include safety.
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