A Tough Week

It has Been a Tough Week for our Community
Posted on 03/18/2021
It has been a tough week for our community.

This last weekend, we learned of a terrible car accident that resulted in the death of one of our students and seriously injured four other East Ridge High School students. The loss of a child is devastating for any family and our hearts go out to all those involved in this tragic accident. Our crisis support team has been stationed at East Ridge all week, along with staff being on site at the crash scene to support students and family members as they grieve.

Though our district serves seven different cities and towns, this type of news touches us all. It’s okay for your child to have different emotions when learning about the loss of a classmate, student or friend. Some may experience fear, anger or worry. Our schools are always available to help during difficult times like this. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.

This week, we were also met with the senseless act of violence in Atlanta that resulted in the shooting death of eight people, primarily Asian women. Though the motive for the shooting is unclear, our stance against hate and violence is not. 

Sadly, anti-Asian harassment and violence have surged since the pandemic began due to racist beliefs. The questions around this case have worsened existing fears. South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo) is home to more than 2,000 Asian students which make up 11% of our student body. We serve each and every student placed in our care and we will not stand for racist, hateful or anti-Asian sentiment or attacks. As one community we must stand with our Asian colleagues, students and families. Our schools will be a place where every child and adult feels safe and supported.

We not only condemn violence and harassment, we reaffirm our Racial Equity Resolution passed by the School Board last fall. One of the action steps includes our continued work to foster a culture of anti-racism and to take all legal steps necessary to further racial equity through the creation of a racial equity plan that addresses the academic achievement and mental and social-emotional well-being of each student. We need to continue to have conversations and will not remain silent. 

As a school community, we need to support each other and show compassion and empathy. Please take time during this upcoming week to reach out to a friend, a colleague, a family member or a neighbor to let them know that you care. Small acts of kindness during a difficult time are remembered.

Julie's Signature

Julie Nielsen
If you’ve experienced or witnessed discrimination in your community, please contact the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) to speak with an investigator. Call 1-833-454-0148 or visit MDHR’s webpage.