RICHMOND, Va. -- The season-opening football game between Huguenot High School and Thomas Jefferson High School has been canceled in the wake of additional "safety and security concerns," Richmond Public School (RPS) officials said Friday afternoon.
The decision to nix the game "difficult" and said it "was not made lightly but out of an abundance of caution for the safety our students and community," officials with the school system said.
"RPS plan to reschedule this game and will continue to communicate additional information to the school communities as it is available," officials wrote.
Earlier in the day officials announced they would bar spectators from the game because of threats of violence on social media.
"We had a threat that we received, passed on to [the Richmond Police Department] regarding our football game tonight between Huguenot and TJ," RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said of the threat Friday morning. He spoke to media as he greeted Huguenot staff and students as part of first week of school activities.
Kamras said the decision to not allow spectators was made out of an abundance of caution.
"I know that's disappointing for families and for kids. We did want the kids to be able to continue to play. They've been practicing and we don't want to take that away from them," added Kamras.
Along with players and coaches, cheerleaders, team bands, and essential attendees (like referees) would have been allowed at the game. There would also have been law enforcement and RPS Care and Safety associates at the game.
"I don't want to get into the specifics of the threat. But, basically, you know, we were concerned enough that we felt like to protect our families and our kids, the best thing to do was to not allow spectators and we'll be checking all the bags even have kids and cheerleaders, everybody coming in just to make sure everything is 100% safe," said Kamras.
The threat comes the same week as the start of the new school year for RPS and follows last school year's deadly shooting outside the Altria Theater after the Huguenot High School graduation ceremony that left two people dead and several others injured.
Thomas Jefferson High School was supposed to be the next school to hold its graduation ceremonies at Altria when the shooting happened.
Thursday, a Feb. 26, 2024 start date for a five-day trial was set for Amari Pollard, who is accused in the death of Shawn Jackson, who was graduating that day.
Meanwhile, the RPS School Board approved a third-party investigation into the shooting. Kamras, who is tasked with providing options as to who would conduct the investigation, said he supported the decision.
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