The following message was shared with Charlottesville City Schools staff and families in response to the events in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021.
Dear staff and families–
We are writing now filled with grief, anger, and disappointment. In no uncertain terms, we condemn the violent and treasonous assault on the U.S. Capitol building, our elections, and the peaceful transfer of power.
As Charlottesville residents, the imagery and actions in D.C. bring us back to August 2017, and we have seen and felt the impact that hate can leave. We know that many of the same groups and ideologies were present at both events.
As a community, we are still grappling with the fall-out from those white supremacist rallies. Added to that, we feel the impact of the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and disrupted daily routines — including the lack of in-person school. And more recently, our community has seen a tragic increase in violence. We know that our community is hurting.
So today, let’s take some deep calming breaths — even as we keep watch on our nation’s capital. Tune out the news or social media if you need to. Let’s observe and listen to our children, and if they have questions, let’s try to answer them. We’ll share once again a resource page that our school counselors first developed in August 2017; many of the links are sadly still relevant. If talking with a counselor would be helpful for your student or for you, then please email your school counselor or call Region Ten at (434) 972-1800.
As you know, the rise in COVID cases likely means that it will be a while longer before we can safely bring more students and staff back in school. Tonight, the School Board is meeting to consider February 22 as the revised start date for more students to begin returning. For a recap of our latest plans, visit charlottesvilleschools.org/returntolearn.
We wish we could be supporting our students in person, but together, we will make the best of our situation. We are so proud of our teachers, staff, students, and families for rising to the occasion on dark days like today and throughout this pandemic.
As school leaders, we are also having conversations with community partners about how to meet the needs in our community and how to lead Charlottesville to a place of wellbeing, unity, and thriving. As we have often reminded ourselves this year, schools are such an important part of “the village,” and it will take all of us working together to usher in a future where every family can prosper. We will keep you posted about these important community conversations.
Whether here in Charlottesville, in our nation’s capital, or around the world, we are facing challenges right now. we are not naive about these challenges, but we are still confident in our community, our country, and our Constitution.
We also have faith in our schools — the places that teach us how to engage with ideas, how to equip ourselves with facts, how to think critically, how to become civically literate. Just as important as any of those things, in Charlottesville our schools also offer us the opportunity to meet — and befriend — people who are different from us in race, religion, politics, and life experiences. Working with young people is a true source of hope. Only when we are grounded in fact, hope, and our interdependent humanity can we set aside destructive violence and work constructively for a better future.
These are challenging days. But with one foot in front of the other, let’s keep walking and working toward a “more perfect union.”
Dr. Rosa Atkins, Jennifer McKeever, and the Charlottesville School Board