CHARLOTTESVILLE — All schools in Charlottesville will be closed Friday for a second consecutive day as authorities work around the clock to find the source of a threatening online post directed at Charlottesville High School.
In response to the threat, Albemarle County police increased its presence at county schools, which remained open.
Charlottesville police are working with state and federal agencies on the investigation.
The online post, a screenshot of which appeared on Reddit on Wednesday, threatened an ethnic cleansing in the form of a school shooting and told white students at Charlottesville High to stay home. The person who posted the threat claimed to be a Charlottesville student.
Police have not confirmed that that threat is the subject of their investigation, but an email sent by a city schools spokeswoman Thursday afternoon said: “We would like to acknowledge and condemn the fact that this threat was racially charged.”
According to the Reddit thread, the original post came from “the Chans,” referring to the message boards 4chan and 8chan, parts of which are frequented by white supremacists. The sites were banned in New Zealand in the wake of last week’s mosque shooting after they hosted video footage of the attack.
Charlottesville schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins said hate and racism aren’t tolerated in the school system or the community.
“I think we all have to keep in mind a threat against one student, no matter what the ethnicity, is a threat against all of our students and a threat against our teachers and our community,” she said.
Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney said Thursday afternoon that investigators were working to identify the source of the original post and were obtaining search warrants.
“What we can say is that the majority of the sites will cooperate with us knowing that there is an outstanding threat,” she said.
Atkins said the school division is collaborating with Charlottesville police on the investigation and safety decisions.
“When our doors open, we want to make sure that we have environments that feel healthy and feel safe,” she said.
In the announcement about Friday’s closure, the school system provided resources for parents on how to talk to their children about why schools are closed, including a guide on how to help them feel safe during uncertain times.
In deciding to close Thursday and Friday, Atkins said the school division considered the mental health and well-being of staff members and students as well.
“It affects everyone. ... If we open our schools, how will our teachers and staff be able to operate during the day?” she said. “How effective will they be during the day, knowing that there is a threat against our school system?”
Brackney, the police chief, said she wouldn’t divulge strategies to protect the schools when they reopen.
With schools closed Thursday, City of Promise worked to fill the void and provide lunch to local children. During a school day, students can receive free breakfast and lunch if they qualify. Denise Johnson, program director for City of Promise, said the nonprofit delivered 200 pizzas to children living at public housing complexes. Charlottesville City Schools donated apples and oranges for the lunch meals.