Roanoke County parents concerned after lack of communication during school lockdowns

Two schools locked down, parents not immediately told why

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – When Brett Dries got a text from his son at Cave Spring Middle School that the school was on lockdown, he feared the worst.

"That there was an active shooter and I needed to get over to the school as quickly as possible," Dries said when asked what went through his mind when he received the text from his son.

There was no active shooter.

The lockdown at Cave Spring Middle and Elementary School was triggered by a man walking away from a domestic dispute in the county with a gun.

No one would tell Dries that, though.

Late Friday afternoon, 10 News learned Roanoke City schools were also placed on shelter-in-place status Friday morning as a precaution.

"I called the police, I called the school. I was near panic," Dries said.

For around 30 minutes, he stood outside the middle school feeling helpless as his son texted him updates.

"He was telling me that they had the boys in the boys locker room, the girls in the girls locker room and that it was hot and they were scared and they were crying," Dries said.

A robo-call about the lockdown was sent to parents, but schools had already been sheltering in place and parents were not told why.

Roanoke County Schools community relations specialist Chuck Lionberger said the lockdown was ordered by Roanoke County police before information about sheltering in place could be sent out.

"The lockdown changed all of our priorities," Lionberger said.

He said the district will learn from this.

"We've already done one debrief, and we're going to continue to do more debriefs and look at ways we can streamline our communication," he explained.

For concerned parents like Lesley Harrop, that needs to happen quickly.

"I think we need to be asking: 'What is the policy in these situations? Was it followed? If it was, it's not working and it needs to be addressed, and if it wasn't, why not?'" Harrop said.

Those are questions she and other parents are now considering bringing up at next week's school board meeting.

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