Discussion of renovations at Waynesboro High School, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the school system and what the 2020-2021 academic year might look like were put on hold at Waynesboro School Board’s regular meeting Tuesday night.
Waynesboro School Board Chair Rick Wheeler first asked everyone present in the room to participate in 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence, the amount of time a white Minneapolis police officer held his knee on the neck of George Floyd on May 25 while Floyd lay face down on a city street.
Floyd’s death followed that 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
“It’s time for us to think about how we can move forward,” Wheeler said.
Shortly after, the school board approved a resolution condemning racism.
The resolution begins by saying the school board and employees at Waynesboro schools are saddened and outraged by the prejudice and injustice that persists in the United States.
“Whereas, racism and hate have no place in our schools or our society,” the resolution states.
The resolutions encourages the community to act to stop racial injustice.
“Our school division can be and will be a sanctuary of safety in our community and a beacon of light for the world, as we build and strengthen trust with those we serve, and we model the acceptance of all people,” the resolution says.
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Vice Chair Diana Williams thanked her fellow board members, staff and members of the community present for participating in the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence at the beginning of the meeting.
“It meant a lot to me, and your participation meant a lot to me, so thank you,” Williams said.
School board member Debra Freeman-Belle said when the board discussed starting the meeting by acknowledging the death of George Floyd, they knew it might be uncomfortable for some.
“So I want you guys to know we chose to be uncomfortable, and that we choose to have core conversations and look at hard issues, because we each want to be the best community and the best school system we can be,” Freeman-Belle said. “And we take that very seriously.”
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