Roanoke school administrators are asking parents and guardians to lock up guns and prescription drugs.
Central office asked all of its schools to send a family safety pledge home with students over the last week, according to schools spokesman Justin McLeod.
The goal of pledge is to reduce the likelihood any student in Roanoke City Public Schools — “including those who may feel temporarily angry or suicidal” — has any access to the firearms or prescription drugs, the letter states.
“School staff and teachers have been asked to secure our children’s safety in impossible circumstances,” the letter states. “We honor and appreciate efforts the school system has made for student safety. Teachers and school staff across the country have died protecting our children from gunmen. Countless deaths are attributed to prescription drug overdoses. The growing epidemic of gun violence and prescription drug abuse is both terrifying and soul wrenching.”
Most gun violence against children and teenagers happens in their homes and communities, the letter states.
“In taking this collective responsibility, we as a community are upholding our part to keep our children from being victims of gun violence and prescription drug overdose at school, at home, and in the wider community,” according to the school system.
The pledge, in accordance with a recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics, asks parents and guardians to ensure their child cannot access firearms, unless under adult supervision, and to keep any opioid, stimulant or prescription drug stored in a locked cabinet or container.
Parents and guardians are asked to sign and keep the documents.
Roanoke first created its family safety pledge last year at the request of a group of parents. The school system decided to send the pledge home a second time this school year, McLeod said.
Last week, Roanoke sent a recorded phone call to parents and guardians from Superintendent Rita Bishop addressing the division’s efforts to address violence, along with gang activity.
“First of all, we are a trauma informed school district so students who are experiencing problems at school and in the community have a variety of adults they can talk to and work through these problems,” Bishop said in the call.
Bishop said Roanoke would send home the family safety pledge again to parents and guardians of elementary and middle schoolers. She asked they read the pledge “with a renewed vigor,” sign it and discuss it with their children.
McLeod said Roanoke decided Friday to send letters home with high school students as well.
The recorded call was made after Bishop, U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen and federal and local officials announced efforts to address gang violence in the city.