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‘Sickening’ bloody halls another example of Richmond Public Schools protocols not being followed

"Things are falling through the cracks."
Richmond parents frustrated after students discover bloody hallways: 'It was sickening'
Posted at 3:46 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 15:46:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Some parents and a school board member said they are upset with the response from Richmond Public Schools after students and staff walked into Richmond Community High School on Monday morning to find remnants of a bloody break-in.

"My daughter called and said there's blood everywhere," said the mother of a Richmond Community High School student. "They shouldn't have seen it."

Pictures students shared with the CBS 6 Problem Solvers showed blood stains covering the hallways and splattered across the floors and walls.

A spokesperson for Richmond Public Schools, Sarah Abubaker, said an intruder broke into the school over the weekend and smashed windows. The man also injured himself and walked around the school.

Abubaker originally said the break-in happened on early Saturday morning, but Richmond Police confirmed it happened Sunday morning shortly before 1 a.m.

Police said the man was arrested, taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries and later released. The suspect is charged with Trespassing on School Property and Destruction of Property.

Abubaker said the building wasn't fully disinfected and secured until Monday afternoon and the evidence was discovered by students and teachers.

A deeper clean of the area by a third-party contractor took place on Tuesday morning, Abubaker said.

A mother, who didn't want to be identified, called the amount of time it took RPS to clean unacceptable.

“I think it was handled very poorly. They should have done better," she said. "If their kids had walked into something like that, what would they say? What would they do?”

The mother said parents weren't notified of the issue until Monday afternoon and many of them were made aware through their children and not the school administration.

Students also wrote the CBS 6 Problem Solvers on Tuesday with concerns.

“No students were ever told throughout the day that it was in fact blood, or that there had been a break-in. It was only when transitioning to second period that there was anything blocking the hallway," one student said.

Another student said it was "absolutely disgusting and scary." She continued, "The halls smelled so gross, and it was sickening."

3rd District School Board Member, Kenya Gibson, said parents reached out to her with similar concerns.

“It is unfathomable to walk into a school building and see it in such a state," Gibson said. “Every single one of the students, every staff member, deserves a sincere apology.”

Gibson said the school board was told school officials and police conducted a walkthrough of the building following the break-in. Police said the responsibility to have the blood cleaned fell on RPS.

"You would think that having such an amount of blood on the floors and in the halls is something that would have been noticed," Gibson said.

The Problem Solvers asked RPS about proper protocols for disinfecting a blood spill and why staff waited until Monday afternoon to clear it.

Abubaker did not directly answer those questions but said RPS apologizes for the distress caused to the community, and the district is reviewing protocols.

“We've been told as a board that the district is looking at their protocols. This is something that we've heard before," Gibson said. "These protocols need to be documented because it is just no excuse."

Gibson said communication protocols have remained an issue for RPS, pointing to an improper fire alarm at the burned-down Fox Elementary and security personnel not being available to call the night of the fire.

“Clearly there are issues with those procedures where things are just not happening," Gibson said. "And the things that are falling through the cracks are not minor issues. These are significant issues.”

The mother of a Richmond Community student agreed and said she expects more transparency from her school district in the future.

"They should acknowledge things a lot better than they do," she said. "Some things can't be swept under the rug."

The Richmond City Health District said it has been in contact with RPS about the incident and recommends CDC guidance when cleaning up blood spills.

A spokesperson for the health district, Cat Long, said Hepatitis B and C and HIV are the three most bloodborne pathogens.

"HIV dies quickly with exposure to air and light, so it is extremely unlikely to pass through dried blood. Hepatitis B and C can stay alive in dried blood, but it would need to pass through the skin through a wound or broken skin in order to infect someone," Long said. "Additionally, most children are vaccinated against Hepatitis B, lowering their risk of exposure further."

Long explained dried blood on the ground presented a low health risk since people were wearing shoes.