Schools on Regular Schedule Tuesday, 11/15

Message sent to families 4pm, Monday, November 14:

Dear Charlottesville Schools staff and families,

It is truly difficult to formulate the right words to express how we are feeling as a school community after the shootings at UVA. People in our community are grieving the loss of their family members, classmates, and friends, as well as their own sense of safety. What resonates with me in this moment is: “It’s okay to not be okay.”

Following today’s arrest of the UVA shooting suspect, Charlottesville City Schools will resume our regular schedule tomorrow morning. Though we’ll have a normal schedule, we know it will not be a normal day. This senseless violence touches us as a school community and as members of the Charlottesville community. This tragedy also follows several other local incidences of gun violence this fall—even earlier this weekend. Each shooting simultaneously breaks our hearts and fills us with fear.

Tomorrow at school, our mental health professionals will be available for students and staff to find calm, connection, or a place to take a break. Additionally, below are suggestions for speaking to children about today’s events as well as resources for caring for yourself and others. My hope is that each of us checks in with what we need and with one another.

Thank you for understanding our decision to close schools today prior to the UVA shooting suspect being apprehended. We appreciate the various police forces who worked to keep our community safe. We extend our deepest sympathies and support to the families of the victims and to the entire UVA community. 

Take care,

Royal A. Gurley, Jr.

Superintendent, Charlottesville Schools

Talking to Your Child About Today’s Events and School Closure 

Younger children may need help understanding both why school was closed today and why it’s ok to reopen tomorrow. Here is a simple explanation: “School was closed today to allow police time to find a person who committed a crime at UVA. The police found that person and so it is safe to go back to school tomorrow.” 

Click here for additional suggestions for talking to children about difficult events from the American Psychological Association 

Ways to Care for Yourself and Others

Adapted from the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition

  • Pay close attention to what makes you feel safe. Stay connected with friends and loved ones who understand how you are feeling.
  • Do the things that work best to keep you calm. This may be taking a hot shower, doing breathing exercises, journaling, or using an app such as Insight Timer. Creating distractions by watching a favorite show or listening to music can also be helpful.
  • Notice the things that increase stress, and take small steps to reduce exposure to that stressor. In particular, taking breaks from media and social media can be important during evolving community events. 
  • Take care of your basic physical needs of eating well, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of rest. Limit drugs and alcohol as ways of coping. 
  • For children, news about the shooting may be stressful. Give children time to talk and ask questions, and be sure to help address their concerns in an age-appropriate manner. 
  • Reach out for additional support if you need it:
    • Our division is now partnering with Care Solace, a service that helps people find and make appointments with mental health and substance use providers. This confidential service is free to CCS staff, students, and their families.  https://caresolace.com/site/charlottesville 
    • The Regional Call Center / 988 / Suicide and Crisis Lifeline offers free and confidential crisis intervention, prevention, and connection to resources, 24 hours a day by calling 434-230-9704 OR texting 988.
    • Specifically for Charlottesville Schools staff:
      • Confidential services of UVA’s FEAP (Faculty and Employee Assistance Program) available to our staff for free. https://uvafeap.com/ 
      • Aetna Resources for Living is currently available due to this community tragedy, including in-the-moment phone support to help callers cope with the emotional impact of the event: 1-833-327-AETNA (1-833-327-2386); and a crisis support website including support services in the area 

 


Message Sent to Staff and Families on November 14, 2022, 6:42am:

Dear Charlottesville Staff and Families–

After a tragedy at the University of Virginia last night, UVA remains on “shelter in place” and has canceled classes today. Charlottesville City Schools will also cancel classes and close offices today (Monday, November 14)  in order to give police time to investigate while they search for the suspect in our community. We are sorry for the late  notice, but safety is our top priority. You can find news reports about the events and the suspect, but we are sharing UVA’s statement to families, below.

Please take care today. We expect to be open on time tomorrow, but given the unusual circumstances, we will confirm with you later this evening.

We extend our sympathy to the students and families impacted, and to the UVA community in general.

Dr. Royal A. Gurley

 

UNIVERSITY OF  VIRGINIA

To the University Community,

I am writing to provide an update to the various community safety alerts the University

has issued over the last several hours.

Around 10:30 p.m. last night, there was a shooting on Grounds. One of our students,

Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr., is suspected to have committed the shooting. The

suspect remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous. Multiple law

enforcement agencies are coordinating to find and apprehend him. He was last seen

wearing a burgundy jacket, blue jeans, and red shoes, and he may be driving a black

SUV with VA license plate number TWX3580. First and foremost, please continue to

follow the guidance you receive though the UVA alert system, which is currently to

shelter in place.

As of this writing, I am heartbroken to report that the shooting has resulted in three

fatalities; two additional victims were injured and are receiving medical care. We are

working closely with the families of the victims, and we will share additional details as

soon as we are able. Our University Police Department has joined forces with other

law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspect, and we will keep our community

apprised of developments as the situation evolves.

This is a message any leader hopes never to have to send, and I am devastated that

this violence has visited the University of Virginia. This is a traumatic incident for

everyone in our community, and we have cancelled classes for today (Monday, Nov.

14). At this point only designated essential employees should report to work on

Monday (all remote employees should continue to work remotely). If you are unsure

of your status, please contact your supervisor.

We will continue to provide updates as the situation unfolds. Please know we have

support available if you need it. Students may call Counseling and Psychological

Services at 434-243-5150, 24 hours a day. Information about CAPS is available on

the Student Health and Wellness website. Faculty and staff can find a similar

resource through the Faculty and Employee Assistance Program by calling 434-243-

2643 or by emailing the office via the FAP website.

For those who have questions about these events, including how to establish contact

with family members or friends who are here on Grounds, please call the UVA

Emergency Hotline at 877-685-4836.

I am holding the victims, their families, and all members of the University of Virginia

community in my heart today, and we will make plans to come together as a

community to grieve as soon as the suspect is apprehended.