Seven Amherst elementary school students ingested fentanyl-laced gummy bears

Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

By Amie Knowles

December 13, 2023

Five students from Central Elementary School in Amherst County sought medical attention on Tuesday, following an incident that happened on school grounds.

While the investigation is ongoing, a press release about the incident stated that seven students experienced an “allergic reaction,” which prompted school administrators to call emergency services.

“Students became ill and were exhibiting symptoms,” Amherst County Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. William Wells said.

The Amherst County Sheriff’s Office conducted a field test on a Ziploc bag that a student brought from home, containing gummy bears that the children ate while at Central. ACPS confirmed on Dec. 12 that the bag tested positive for fentanyl.

Two students were transported by Amherst County EMS, and three were taken by their parents to receive treatment.

In the media release, ACPS noted that the families of the students were notified, and updates would be released as more information became available.

All five students were released from the hospital after receiving treatment, Wells confirmed. He also noted that two adults were arrested in connection with the case.

In the Facebook comments on the ACPS post about the incident, parents and community members raised concerns and asked questions. One individual asked if the school had undergone a “deep clean” since the incident. ACPS responded that the “area affected” had been cleaned. Parents pressed the issue, asking for more details about the cleaning process.

ACPS wrote in the comments: “The fentanyl residue was in a Ziploc bag and was contained to that bag. As a precaution, we wiped the area the students were seated with a sanitizing solution.”

We asked Wells what steps ACPS plans to take to ensure that a situation like this doesn’t happen again.

He said, “Amherst County Public Schools will continue to communicate with students, families, and staff about the importance of drug awareness and not sharing food items.”

Editor’s note: ACPS Superintendent Dr. William Wells responded to Dogwood’s email request at 11:57 a.m. on Dec. 13. We’ve made updates to our story to reflect the new information received.

Original article: Five students from Central Elementary School in Amherst County sought medical attention on Tuesday, following an incident that happened on school grounds.

While the investigation is ongoing, a press release about the incident stated that seven students experienced an “allergic reaction,” which prompted school administrators to call emergency services.

The Amherst County Sheriff’s Office conducted a field test on a Ziploc bag that a student brought from home, containing gummy bears that the children ate while at Central. Amherst County Public Schools (ACPS) confirmed on Dec. 12 that the bag tested positive for fentanyl.

Two students were transported by Amherst County EMS, and three were taken by their parents to receive treatment.

In the media release, ACPS noted that the families of the students were notified, and updates would be released as more information became available.

In the Facebook comments on the ACPS post about the incident, parents and community members raised concerns and asked questions. One individual asked if the school had undergone a “deep clean” since the incident. ACPS responded that the “area affected” had been cleaned. Parents pressed the issue, asking for more details about the cleaning process.

ACPS wrote in the comments: “The fentanyl residue was in a Ziploc bag and was contained to that bag. As a precaution, we wiped the area the students were seated with a sanitizing solution.”

Dogwood reached out to ACPS through email for comment, and received word that our request was forwarded to the superintendent’s office. We will update this story as news becomes available.

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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