Richneck Elementary Reopens with New Safety Protocols After Shooting

Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, is reopening on Monday for the first time since a 6-year-old student allegedly shot his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, inside a classroom on January 6.[0] The school will have new safety protocols in place, including metal detectors and clear backpacks.[1] The outcome of the incident has caused the Newport News Public Schools superintendent to be removed and the principal of the school to be transferred to another school.[2]

In the weeks since the shooting, revelations have emerged on how the administration handled the incident.[3] According to a statement from the student’s family released last week, the student suffers from “an acute disability” and was under a specialized care plan at school.[4] One of his parents accompanied him to school daily as part of the plan.[5] However, the week of the shooting was the first that his parents were not in the classroom with him.[5] The family has said the gun the child allegedly brought to school in his backpack was secured by a trigger lock and kept on the top shelf of a closet.[6]

Zwerner has been hailed as a hero for her actions in keeping her students safe after she was shot.[7] She made sure all her students made it out of the classroom and was the last person to leave her classroom before making her way to the administration office.[8] Zwerner was hit by a single round as she was teaching and was taken to the hospital.[6] Zwerner was discharged from the hospital and is still in the process of healing.[6]

The incident has sparked outrage among frustrated parents.[9] The lawyer for the hurt teacher declared last week that the school personnel had been warned several times before the shooting about the student having a firearm and that he had been threatening people.[2] Diane Toscano, a lawyer, claimed that approximately an hour after an employee was denied the right to search the student, Zwerner was shot.[2]

As children returned to class on Monday, police were on campus to “assist with the transition.”[10] The school will be limiting visitors during this first week of instruction to allow staff “the opportunity to establish routines and procedures with students.”[2] Parents will not be allowed to enter classrooms and those who choose to walk their children to class must show identification and are also subject to search.[2]

0. “Virginia school reopens after teacher shot by student” UPI News, 30 Jan. 2023,

1. “Security heightened, resources available as Richneck students return to class”, 30 Jan. 2023,

2. “Virginia school announces new safety protocols as students return to class nearly a month after a 6-year-old allegedly …” WPSD Local 6, 30 Jan. 2023,

3. “Virginia school reopens after 6-year-old student shot teacher: How do parents feel?” KUAR, 30 Jan. 2023,

4. “Students return to Virginia school after shooting; injured teacher to sue” The Lion, 30 Jan. 2023,

5. “Richneck Elementary set to open Monday following shooting in classroom” Daily Press, 24 Jan. 2023,

6. “Richneck Elementary reopens weeks after teacher shot by 6-year-old boy” The Washington Post, 30 Jan. 2023,

7. “Principal at Virginia school where 6-year-old shot teacher removed as students return to class” msnNOW, 30 Jan. 2023,

8. “Students will return to Richneck Elem. Jan. 30, almost a month after shooting” News 3 WTKR Norfolk, 23 Jan. 2023,

9. “What we know about the Richneck Elementary School shooting” WVEC, 27 Jan. 2023,

10. “Students At School Where Six-Year-Old Child Shot Teacher Return To Class | NEWSRADIO 1040 WHO” iHeart, 30 Jan. 2023,