A mother threatened to bring "every single gun loaded and ready" to her children's school in Luray, Virginia, in opposition to a mask mandate, prompting officials to beef up police security.
"My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on, all right?" the woman, Amelia King, said during a Thursday school board meeting for Page County Public Schools. "That's not happening. And I will bring every single gun loaded and ready. I will see y'all on Monday."
A school board member then cut off King because she spoke for longer than the allotted three minutes. As she walked away from the microphone, she said, "I'll see y'all on Monday."
On Jan. 15, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin reversed the state's mask mandates in schools, allowing parents to decide whether their child will wear a mask to school. However, several school divisions have said they will continue to require students to wear masks. During Thursday's school board meeting, however, the Page County Public Schools board voted that it will be up to parents like King.
The incident adds to a number of school board meetings across the US that have become threatening and contentious as divisive national politics make their way to local government.
On Friday, Antonia Fox, the division superintendent, and Megan Gordon, the school board chair, said in a statement that there would be an increased police presence at Page County schools Friday and Monday.
"Last night at our School Board meeting during the Citizen Comment period there were comments made that referenced weapons and were perceived by many to be threatening in nature," the statement said. "Page County Public Schools does not take these kinds of statements lightly.
"Not only do comments such as these go against everything we wish to model for our students, they go against the very nature of how we as a community should interact with each other. Violence and threats are never acceptable or appropriate. This kind of behavior is not tolerated from our students, faculty, staff, nor will it be tolerated by parents or guests of our school division."
Toward the end of the school board meeting, King sent an email to the board apologizing for her use of words.
"She wants to apologize for the way she phrased the statement," one board member said as they read King's email to the rest of the board. "She doesn't like to speak off the cuff. 'I in no way meant to imply all guns loaded as in actual firearms but rather all resources I can muster to make sure my children get to attend schools without masks. Sincere apologies for my poor choice in words.'"
Luray police also posted a statement on Facebook saying King had called authorities immediately to apologize.
"We have been in contact with the parent who made the statement, she is cooperating with law enforcement," police said in the statement. "This incident is still under investigation and no arrests have been made at this time."
Virginia's police chief did not immediately respond to a request for comment.