Area school and law enforcement officials are responding with alertness and caution to alleged threats that have been circulating on the social media platform TikTok about the alleged potential for violence in schools on Friday, December 17. While they report that they have investigated and there are no specific threats to local schools, they are remaining vigilant to ensure students’ safety. School districts, sheriff’s offices, and police departments across Central Virginia have issued statements about the matter and how they are dealing with it.
Campbell County Public Schools issued the following statement.
“Dear Families, Campbell County Public Schools has become aware of a troubling post that has been shared nationwide this week on the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety ‘for every school in the USA, even elementary,’ on Friday, December 17.
“The post appears to be part of a national TikTok trend and did not originate in our school district. We have heard reports from other districts that the same post is circulating in their schools. While we do not believe the threat to be credible, we are closely monitoring the situation and taking it seriously.
“Additionally, the district has been in contact with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department regarding the post. We may have an increased police presence in our buildings on Friday as an added precaution.”
School district officials urged people to refrain from sharing social media posts about rumored, potential, or alleged threats involving schools. “This situation serves as a good example of why it is important to avoid sharing posts online that refer to school safety threats. Even if they are not credible threats, they can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for our students, families, and staff. We ask our families to monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online and the severe consequences of making threats.”
People learning of information regarding threats to the safety of schools have been advised to contact a school staff member or school official. “If you or your child become aware of any potential threat posted to social media or anywhere else, please notify a school staff member or trusted adult right away.”
The district letter to parents concluded, “As always, thank you for your partnership as we work to ensure a safe, secure, and positive learning environment for our students.”
The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office likewise issued a statement regarding the threat. “The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office is aware of a troubling post being shared nationwide via the social media platform TikTok. The post refers to a threat to school safety nationwide this Friday, December 17th. While this social media threat did not originate in our school district, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office is taking the threat very seriously. While we have not received any direct threats toward the Campbell County Schools, we will continue to monitor this situation closely and ensure that additional resources are in place at every school.
“The Sheriff’s Office has been coordinating with School Officials, Virginia State Police, Campbell County Public Safety, Brookneal PD, and Altavista PD to ensure the safety of our students and faculty throughout the school day. If you have any information regarding a threat to our school system, immediately call 911.”
Altavista Police Chief Tommy Merricks issued the following statement to the Altavista Journal. “We have been made aware of threats that have been going around on TikTok. We always want to make sure students are safe; student safety is our top priority. We are working with Campbell County Sheriff’s Office on this matter.”
Superintendent of Pittsylvania County Schools, Dr. Mark Jones, told the Altavista Journal, “We sent a message to our families last night. I’ve spoken several times with the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. We’re going to have extra presence of deputies in close proximity to schools today, and the School Resource Officers have been made aware of the situation.”
Other districts in the area, including Bedford Amherst, Franklin, and Halifax Counties have issued similar statements about taking similar measures. Other districts, including Appomattox County Public Schools, have already gone on Christmas break and are not open for students today.