Levy County school shut down after drug scare

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The public school that serves sixth- through 12th-graders in nearby Bronson is on edge after a drug scare. Two students were found in a bathroom earlier this week with what turned out to be methamphetamine, authorities said, and students Thursday reported feeling ill with what turned out to be flu symptoms.

Authorities on Wednesday locked down Bronson Middle/High School in Levy County – about 25 miles southwest of Gainesville – after a white powdery substance was found in one of the school’s bathrooms along with two ill students.

The drug task force feared the substance could contain fentanyl, the deadly drug sweeping across America and killing thousands a year, but concluded it was methamphetamine and did not contain fentanyl, Levy County Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Tummond said.

Then, on Thursday, the school was locked down again as emergency medical services checked on several students at the school who said they were sick. Medical staff determined they were not suffering from exposure to any chemicals or drugs, the sheriff’s office said.

The symptoms the students reported were similar to those for the flu, Tummond said. By 10 a.m. Thursday, the school announced a secure campus.

A 13-year-old student found in the bathroom with methamphetamine Wednesday was hospitalized. Another student in that incident was treated and released to their parent. The sheriff’s office arrested the 13-year-old and accused that student of delivering the drugs. The student is in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. 

The school was deep-cleaned Wednesday in any areas that may have been exposed to the drug.

Levy County Superintendent Chris Cowart and Sheriff Bobby McCallum said they wanted the events to “serve as a wake-up call to all parents.” They warned students about the dangers of fentanyl and advised parents to closely monitor their children’s activities and friends.

Meanwhile, Florida’s attorney general, Ashley Moody, on Thursday announced the launch of a new campaign, One Pill Can Kill. The educational campaign is intended to warn Floridians about fentanyl, its use in lacing counterfeit pills, actions being taken to stop the influx of the deadly drug and how to spot drug addiction, her office said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said more than 71,000 people across the nation reportedly overdosed on fentanyl in 2021, with about 88% of all overdose deaths involving opioids. Fentanyl deaths increased by about 23% from 2020 to 2021.

“Fentanyl is the deadliest substance we have ever seen permeate the illicit drug market,” Moody said. 

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This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org

About Troy Myers

Troy is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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