LURAY, Va. (CN) — A rural Virginia mother said she would bring loaded guns to school if her local school board forced any kind of mask mandate on her children.
"My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on, that's not happening,” said Luray mother Amelia King at a Page County School Board meeting Thursday night.
“And I will bring every single gun loaded and ready... I will call every..." she added before being cut off by school board officials. “I’ll see y’all on Monday.”
One of the school members can be heard letting out an exasperated sigh after King leaves the room.
In a joint statement Friday morning, Page County Public Schools Superintendent Antonia M. Fox and School Board Chair Megan Gordon condemned King’s comments.
"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,” they said, adding the board was in communication with local, state and federal law enforcement and would increase police presence in schools on Monday.
"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," the officials said.
King's comments come less than a week after Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin was sworn into office and signed an executive order allowing parents to choose whether their children wear masks in schools.
In the order, Youngkin said mask mandates had proven “ineffective and impractical,” and said parents should have the “ability to decide whether their child should wear masks for the duration of the school day.”
After King spoke at Thursday night's meeting, Page County officials voted to approve optional mask wearing in line with the governor’s order.
“Parents, you have a responsibility in this decision. In that, as we go forward whatever the outcome, the ball is in your court when it comes to your child coming to school if they’re sick,” said Jackie Sullivan-Smoot, a member of the Page County School Board, according to local reports. The county is seeing its highest Covid-19 infection rates since the pandemic began, with a 42% test positivity rate.
King is not the only parent with opinions on Youngkin’s school mask order. Many of Virginia's northern suburbs, including Fairfax and Arlington counties, have promised to continue masking in defiance of the governor.
A group of Chesapeake-based parents went as far as asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to block the anti-mask order from going into effect. They argued in a complaint filed Tuesday that Youngkin lacks the authority to supersede a 2021 bill requiring adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as well as local school boards’ decisions to enforce the mask requirements included as part of those rules.
But in a brief filed with the state’s highest court Thursday night, Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares' office said the parents lack standing to sue and the 2021 law is written vaguely enough to allow a rollback of mask requirements.
CDC recommendations do not "require schools unthinkingly to adopt every item on the vast menu of options that exist for warding off Covid-19 in schools," Solicitor General Andrew N. Ferguson wrote in response to the parents' complaint.
The complaint asked for a decision by Monday, but the court has not signaled when it intends to rule.
Spokespeople from both Miyares and Youngkin’s offices said they “do not condone” and instead “condemn violence or threats of any kind.”
Democratic state Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg said the mother’s words speak to the new governor prioritizing politics over school safety through his executive order.
“The way he wrote it he also encouraged conflict in every locality," the state lawmaker and high school civics teacher tweeted Friday morning. "It’s unfortunate it’s gone this far. Schools should be safe.”
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