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BREAKING: Police presence at Wakefield High School after possible overdose

(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) There was a significant police presence at Wakefield High School today after a possible drug overdose.

One student was transported via ambulance from the school in critical condition after being found unresponsive. Four other students were treated on the scene for unspecified issues, according to the Arlington County Police Department.

Police and medics responded to the school’s medical clinic and an upper floor boys bathroom, where CPR was performed on the student who was then rushed to the hospital, according to initial reports.

A police press release issued this afternoon said the student who was taken to the hospital remains in critical condition.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating an apparent drug overdose at Wakefield High School.

At approximately 9:27 a.m. on January 31, police and fire were dispatched to the 1300 block of S. Dinwiddie Street for the report of an unresponsive juvenile male inside a bathroom. Medics administered emergency medical aid before transporting the juvenile to an area hospital. He remains hospitalized in critical condition. Four additional juveniles were evaluated on scene by medics.

Responding officers processed the scene, collected evidence and spoke with witnesses. Based on the preliminary information, this incident is being investigated as an apparent drug overdose. In accordance with Virginia Code, additional details are not releasable due to the patient’s age.

This remains an active investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected]. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, help is available and there are numerous treatment resources available in Arlington.

This morning, during the emergency response, Wakefield’s principal sent an email to families, noting that “students are being held in their second period classes at the request of the Arlington County Police Department.”

The school ultimately dismissed early, cancelled all evening activities and has postponed tonight’s athletic events.

“Due to the disruption caused by the ongoing ACPD investigation, we are dismissing students early,” Wakefield principal Chris Wilmore said in a subsequent email. Students will be dismissed at 12:30 p.m. and all after-school and evening activities are canceled. Students will be provided with a grab-and-go lunch if needed as they leave.”

In recent months numerous parents and advocates have sounded the alarm to ARLnow about opioid use and overdoses in Arlington’s public schools, including middle schools and high schools.

Arlington police responded to APS buildings seven times for reported overdoses between January and October 2022, according to ACPD stats. APS has been trying to combat a twin epidemic of opioid use and mental health crises among students, leading to at least two student deaths since Christmas, ARLnow reported earlier this month.

This afternoon, Wilmore sent the following email to families, noting that “additional counseling services will be available for students on Wednesday.”

Dear Wakefield Families and Staff:

This has been a difficult day for our community. I wanted to provide additional details about the medical emergency this morning and resources available to support our students. I also want to confirm that school will be open on time tomorrow. Counseling support is available to students and staff if needed.

This morning, a student was found unconscious in a bathroom by fellow students. Wakefield school safety staff took immediate action, called for medical assistance, and began life-saving interventions. The Arlington County Fire Department responded and continued interventions and transported the student to the hospital.

The Arlington County Police Department also responded and began their investigation. As the ACPD shared, the reason for the medical emergency is an apparent overdose. The student remains hospitalized in critical condition. Four additional students were evaluated on scene by medics.

While the police conducted their initial investigation, Wakefield students stayed in their second period classes. As was shared earlier, in order to support the ongoing investigation, we made the decision to dismiss students directly from their second period classes and provided a grab-and-go lunch.

Wakefield staff immediately responded to the situation this morning and followed protocol. I want to personally commend students and staff for their assistance this morning. I also want to reiterate that we are doing everything we can to support the student, their family, and the Wakefield community during this time.

Additional counseling services will be available for students on Wednesday. Please talk with your student and note that it is important to provide them with reassurance and the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. The resource below from the National Association of School Psychologists also provides tips and ideas to support your child:

If staff need additional support, they should reach out to Stacy Morris, Director of Counseling.

It’s never too early or too late to talk about substance use. The earlier you speak to your children about substances, the stronger foundation you are laying down.

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