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Richmond Schools adjust plans after Graduation Day shooting: 'This will be very upsetting to many'

'Families and students can still come by to drop of technology, pick up grab-and-go breakfast and lunch, and retrieve medications and other student items'
Vigil Richmond Public Schools Graduation Day Shooting
Posted at 6:46 PM, Jun 07, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Public Schools will also be closed Thursday and Friday following a shooting outside a high school graduation Tuesday killed a senior who just graduated, his stepfather and injured others.

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said the decision to close school for the last day and a half of the academic year would be "very upsetting to many." But he said he did so "out of an abundance of caution" and "in light of yesterday's tragedy."

"Given how on edge our community is right now, and given that three more RPS students were shot last night, I felt this step was necessary to safeguard the RPS family. Thank you for your grace and understanding," Kamras wrote.

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Additionally, all school events, including moving on ceremonies and end of year celebrations, were also canceled, Kamras said.

I also want to acknowledge the handful of families who have reached out to me to share their frustration with my decision to close school today and tomorrow. I know some of our fifth grade and eighth grade families, in particular, are disappointed given the cancellation of moving on ceremonies. I've experienced this firsthand, as my action canceled my own son's Henderson graduation.
I made this decision for two reasons. First, our teachers and staff – across the division – are emotionally depleted. For many, this latest tragedy was deeply re-traumatizizing, as they have had to deal with countless other shootings and deaths in their careers. In short, many in the RPS family are barely holding on. Second, when shootings like this happen, I always fear retaliation and copycat activity – particularly with an incident as public as this.
I hate closing school. But I have promised to always treat our 22,000 students as if they were my own flesh and blood. And I could no less bear the thought of my own two sons suffering Shawn's fate, as I could anyone else's. Again, thank you for your grace.

Superintendent Jason Kamras Friday update on decision to end school year early

Teachers and staffers were asked to report to school Thursday per their normal schedule "to process yesterday's events as a community and to complete close-out tasks," Kamras said.

"Families and students can still come by to drop of technology, pick up grab-and-go breakfast and lunch, and retrieve medications and other student items. Be on the lookout for school-specific instructions from your principal," Kamras wrote. "If any family needs help getting to their child's school, please call our Family Support Line at 804-780-6195."

Superintendent can’t shake image of Richmond teen receiving CPR in graduation gown

Additionally, officials said the remaining 2023 commencement ceremonies will take place next week inside the district's schools.

  • Open High School - Friday, June 9, 9 am, at Richmond Community High School
  • Franklin Military Academy - Monday, June 12, 9 am, at Franklin Military Academy
  • Armstrong High School - Monday, June 12, 11:30 am, at Armstrong High School
  • Thomas Jefferson High School - Monday, June 12, 2 pm, at Thomas Jefferson High School
  • John Marshall High School - Tuesday, June 13, 9 am, at John Marshall High School
  • George Wythe High School - Tuesday, June 13, 12 pm, at John Marshall High School

Click here for details about tickets and livestreaming.

Officials also noted there would be additional security measures, including: no bags of any kind allowed inside the school (no exceptions), no flowers, balloons, or amplified devices will be permitted and everyone will be subject to searches.

Officials said anyone who wants to help support the family of the victim, Lorenzo Smith, can make a donation to the RPS Trauma Healing Response Fund.

"Established by the RPS Education Foundation, this fund will manage donations to aid RPS victims of gun violence and their families," officials wrote.

Anyone with information about the shooting was urged to call Richmond Police at 804-780-6461 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip. If you see breaking news, and can do so safely, shoot a photo or video and send it to CBS 6. You can also upload photos to our Facebook page or email pics@wtvr.com from your phone.

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