Dear Orange County Schools Staff and Community,
As we learn of the verdict in the George Floyd case, our thoughts are with his family and friends. This past year was not only challenging fighting a pandemic, but the pain and devastation was and continues to be exacerbated by the injustices in our country.
Today’s verdict in the death of George Floyd demonstrates accountability that we welcome as our community and country must demonstrate that each and every citizen matters. Moreover, Black Lives Matter.
As we continue to read headline after headline about Black men and women being killed by police, about hate crimes towards the Asian community, about racial violence directed at the Latino community, about increased violence experienced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we know that we still have a long way to go to achieve the goals of equality for all people in America.
As a district, we have taken actions on our commitment to ensuring equity in our schools. For example, on September 14, 2020, the OCS Board of Education approved the Resolution for the Board’s Next Steps towards Equity in Education in OCS (link) as acknowledgement of persistent racial intolerance, inequities and academic disparities in our district as defined by OCS Policy 1030 (link).
We want to reaffirm our commitment to you. Our schools and our classrooms serve as gathering places for students from all races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities and identities. Their very diversity is the power and strength of our district and of our community. How and what our students learn will determine the future of Orange County, North Carolina, the country and the world. What we do as those entrusted to care for and educate our students matters. And we do not take this responsibility lightly.
As families and educators, it is our job to support and empower students through these challenging times. We must uplift them, believe in them, and give them the tools they need to face our diverse world as it is and join us in the fight to make it an inclusive world respecting the life of every human being.
While today’s verdict brings this trial to a close, the conversation about systemic racism and inequity must continue in our homes, communities and schools. It is with hope that we can now begin to heal. We will take the lessons from this experience and work together to build a better and more equitable world.
To help make sense of what our country is experiencing right now, the following resources are being provided in support of students and families:
- NPR What to Say to Kids When the News is Scary
- Framing Brave Conversations About Race and Equity
- Helping Youth After Community Trauma
- Talking with Children After Racial Incidents
- Talking to Kids About Tragedies and Other News Events
If you, your child or family need additional support or resources, please do not hesitate to contact your school’s principal or counselor.
Dr. Monique Felder, OCS Superintendent & Hillary MacKenzie, OCS Board Chair