The Ferguson-Florissant School District has announced that schools would stay closed for the rest of the week due to the unsafe environment that has escalated after the shooting of Michael Brown. Classes will resume in the district on Monday, August 25.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that surrounding districts Jennings County and Riverview Gardens canceled class at the start of the week as well.
The school year was originally scheduled to start on August 14, but the date keeps getting pushed back. Valerie Strauss from The Washington Post reports the Ferguson-Florissant district’s acting superintendent, Lawrence Larrew, posted a letter on the district’s website addressed to the community regarding the delays.
We believe that closing schools for the rest of this week will allow needed time for peace and stability to be restored to our community and allow families to plan ahead for the additional days that children will be out of school.
While we deeply regret this delay to the start of the 2014-2015 school year, our first priority is the safety of our students.
The delays are affecting more than just students’ education. Many of the students in the district depend on school to eat.
The school district enrolls more than 12,000 students in 23 public schools. Of that total, 7,994 were enrolled in free or reduced price lunch programs in the 2011-12 school year, reports US News.
Colleen Shalby from PBS News writes that students in Pre-K through 12th grade were able to receive food over the summer through meal programs, but now that summer break has ended and school is being delayed they are forced to go hungry.
Julianna Mendelsohn, a teacher from Mangum Elementary School in Durham North Carolina, wanted to help the students of the community. She started a campaign on Fundly.com in order to collect donations for the St. Louis Food Bank to buy food for students. What she expected to be a couple thousand dollars raised by family and friends turned out to be $80,000 after the campaign was circulated on Twitter.
A parent in the district, Melissa Baird Fitzgerald, also took to the Internet to support the community. In an interview with The Take Away, she expressed her concerns for her children and other local children who are affected by this situation. She began the “Parents for Peace” Facebook page so that parents could have a forum to express themselves and so children will be welcomed on their first day of school despite the rocky start to the school year.
Dr. Scott Spurgeon, superintendent of the Riverview Gardens School District, says that time will be spent having conversation with students to begin the healing process and help provide understanding and guidance surrounding the events that have occurred.
President Barack Obama addressed the community in a Press Conference Monday afternoon:
“Ours is a nation of laws: Of citizens who live under them and for the citizens who enforce them. So, to a community in Ferguson that is rightly hurting and looking for answers, let me call once again for us to seek some understanding rather than simply holler at each other. Let’s seek to heal rather than to wound each other. As Americans we’ve got to use this moment to seek out our shared humanity.”