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District Response to the Death of George Floyd and Racial Justice Movement

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Orono Schools is committed to an ongoing effort to live, teach and build understanding of the core values defined in Orono’s Character Education program, among them:

  • Relationships – Respecting and caring for all members of our community
  • Inclusion – Embracing diverse and unique needs, backgrounds, ideas and talents
  • Responsibility – Thinking before you act, considering the consequences and being accountable for your choices

This fall, Orono Schools is recommitting to its equity work with Reimagine Minnesota, a comprehensive education plan developed collectively by more than 30 school superintendents from the Twin Cities area. This effort began in 2016, and included Orono Schools’ participation in a World Café event where students, parents, guardians, staff and community members came together to speak, listen, understand equity challenges and describe their vision for an excellent education for all students.

Orono Schools is also committed to expanding content and access to a library of resources for administrators, teachers, staff and families around the topics of justice, equity and inclusion to foster understanding and action needed to challenge inequities in our society.

Letter in reference to the death of George Floyd dated May 29, 2020:

Dear Orono families and staff,

As a school leader, the multiple events in Minneapolis bring me worry, grief and disbelief. Our response and actions will deeply affect our future and our values in Minnesota. These tragic events have compelled me to share a broader message to you all.

At this hour, our Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro community continues to experience tremendous pain, loss and instability. Our hearts go out to the families and children in those cities who are directly affected and experiencing fear and uncertainty. We stand united with all students and families as we strive for a more just and equitable world.

As our families discuss and absorb these tragedies, I am reminded that this news compounds for our children who are still attempting to understand a global pandemic and the loss of normal school experiences. I want to remind you that our counselors and support staff are here to help you if any child needs assistance understanding or processing what is happening.

For younger children, PBS has a wonderful resource for parents titled, “Helping Children with Tragic Events in the News.”

Older children often find comfort when families are present and available to discuss what’s happening in real time. Seattle Children’s Hospital shares a resource for Helping Kids Cope with Anxiety Over Distressing News.

The wellbeing of Orono children and families is always on our mind, even from a distance. I hope you find these resources helpful today as we head into the weekend.

Please be well, and take care of each other.

Karen Orcutt, Ed.D.