RICHMOND, Va. -- Following a Tuesday night shooting that killed a mother and a three-month-old, Richmond Public School's Superintendent is taking a stand for the safety of students.
Jason Kamras shared a tweet on Wednesday morning, saying that the incident left him well past heartbroken.
To my knowledge, we haven’t lost any students to COVID. Thank god. But in same timeframe, we’ve lost nearly 10 to gun violence. Number goes up to many dozens since I became Supt. I’m well past heartbroken. I’m angry. We have to figure out how to stop this.
A 29-year-old woman, a 15-year old girl and an 11-year-old girl were also injured in Tuesday's shooting outside the Belt Atlantic apartments. Both the 15-year-old and 11-year-old are RPS students. Kamras said the shooting is evidence that more must be done to address the problem.
"Thank God none of our kids have died from COVID but many have died from gun violence. And we haven't done the same thing in response," Kamras said.
Since the beginning of 2021, seven children under the age of 18 have been involved in shooting incidents, four fatally, in the City of Richmond, according to an archival article search.
"As a superintendent, but also as a father, these shootings and the deaths you know, they do more than break my heart, they frankly have just made me angry, you know, angry that a mom and her three-month-old baby are now going to have a funeral," Kamras said.
Kamras said that in regards to how to address the issue of gun violence, there isn't just one simple answer. He offered solutions as making it harder to obtain guns and addressing the reasons why people are trying to resolve problems with gunfire.
"Whether that is mental health support or investing more in education or social services or housing or whatever the case may be, we have to attack some of the underlying issues that lead people to come to their breaking point," Kamras said.
Kamras said that equipping RPS students with social and emotional skills is a pillar of their educational experience. However, he noted that while children may be learning these lessons in their classrooms, many adults need to be taught the same skills.
"Sadly, a lot of adults struggle with these things," Kamras said. "But they're just as important as reading and writing and math."
Due to the frequent presence of gun violence, Kamras said that RPS has put systems in place to support students if an incident takes place. The school district is supplied with a whole response team, psychologists, social workers and grief counselors to support students if something happens.
"You're gonna have kids who have to log on the next day and their friend was shot or their cousin died," Kamras said. "It's just unspeakable, unthinkable what so many of our young people are going through."
Kamras said that amid these tragedies, the school district is committed to protecting the physical and mental well-being of students.
"I assure you, my number one commitment is to keep our kids safe at all times," Kamras said.