Over the past several months there has been a rise in anti-Asian hate and violence, much of which can be connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. The shootings that occurred in Georgia on March 16, 2021 that resulted in the tragic and untimely deaths of eight people, including six Asian women are the latest in a string of attacks targeting Asian communities. Like many of you, I am heartbroken by this tragedy and offer my sincerest condolences to the victims and their families. We all must join together in condemning these acts of senseless violence; but more importantly, we must commit time and resources to uplifting the students and communities most impacted.
Many Asian-American communities, their friends, and allies are reeling by these tragic events. Educators and leaders are encouraged to acknowledge the pain and trauma caused to students as a result of the recent hate crime in Georgia and ongoing racist attacks. Schools are a microcosm of our larger society and it is crucial that we consider how such events impact teaching, learning, and student experience. Further, educators and leaders must stand prepared to address the ways in which continued racial and xhenophobic attacks against Asian communities might pour into our schools and classrooms. It is necessary for practitioners to leverage resources that support anti-racism in schools, as well as students' social-emotional needs. Now more than ever, it is critical that we create and maintain school environments that are affirming, validating, and respectful of who our students are and where they come from.
When we say that Virginia is for Learners, we mean ALL learners, thus it is our responsibility as educators and education leaders to speak up and against anti-Asian discourse and xenophobia, as well as support students through these difficult times. The Virginia Department of Education stands committed to upholding the dignity of all students and reaffirms our commitment to education equity and inclusive practice. It is my hope that we will continue these critical conversations about race beyond this moment.