The message - which was received shortly before 6 a.m EST - did not specify which schools may be involved, Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Joe Gentile said.
"As a precautionary measure, we have directed each district commander to send officers to every school within their district to work with school security and maintenance and search the schools," he said.
"It's being handled as a local, one-time prank, and students are being kept inside under the shelter in place policy," District of Columbia Public School spokeswoman Prenell Neeley told The Associated Press. "We're following the lead of police."
District Catholic schools are also taking precautions.
Archdiocese of Washington spokesperson Susan Gibbs says police have notified the superintendent of Catholic schools, Patricia Weitzel-O'Neill.
Weitzel-O'Neill has, in turn, sent an e-mail to all school principals alerting them to the threat, and telling them to expect a visit from a police officer sometime Friday.
Gibbs says principals are being asked to walk their school property and look for anything unusual. If they find anything, they are to contact police immediately.
As is happening with the public schools, students are not being evacuated at the Catholic schools.