Three Washington state schools were put on lockdown Friday as anti-mask protesters attempted to breach the grounds while kids were in class, according to local reports.
Vancouver Public Schools officials locked down Skyview High School, Alki Middle School and Chinook Elementary School, which are all located near one another along the Oregon border.
“As a safety precaution, Skyview, Alki and Chinook were put into a lockdown on Sept. 3 due to a disturbance by protesters who attempted to come onto Skyview’s campus,” Patricia Nuzzo, the communications director for the district, said in a statement to KGW8.
Washington state K-12 students and staff have to wear masks at school, per a mandate from Gov. Jay Inslee.
Nuzzo said that the lockdown was also related to protests of the mask mandate the day prior.
“This is related to yesterday’s protest against Washington state’s requirement for staff and students to wear masks or face coverings in schools and on buses.”
Video on social media appeared to show the demonstration outside of Skyview High School, where protesters could be heard chanting “USA.”
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Patriot Prayer, a far-right group, and other far-right activists circulated social media posts claiming that a female freshman student at the school was going to be arrested if she entered school grounds without a mask.
The outlet reported that the high school was placed on lockdown after members of the Proud Boys attempted to escort the student into the building.
The student’s mother, Megan Gabriel, told OPB that her daughter was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, and had requested an exception to the mandate to stop mask-induced panic attacks.
Gabriel — who said she is not anti-mask or anti-vaccinations — told the station she has been willing to make special arrangements for her daughter, such as arriving at school early and staying socially distanced from her classmates.
“Yesterday, they locked her out of the building and I had no idea,” Gabriel told OPB. “She was locked out of the building for an hour.”
One high schooler compared the lockdown to a school shooter drill, and said that the protesters were harassing him and classmates, according to OPB.
“All the learning gets disrupted. We have to sit down quietly, not make noise, and we were hunkered down in our classrooms for around an hour to an hour-and-a-half,” Lucas, a 16-year-old high school student at Skyview, told the outlet.
School board president Kyle Sproul said he believes that parents should be able to come together and find a different means to disagree with the state law.
“Regardless of one’s stance on mask mandates, I think most parents in our community agree that protesting at our school campuses and disrupting the school day is not in the best interest of students,” Sproul told OPB.