Henrico, Va. June 16, 2020 — Henrico County Public Schools will close Monday in observation of Juneteenth, the annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Superintendent Amy Cashwell said in an email to employees Tuesday that she and the School Board hope to encourage reflection and dialogue, and prioritize cultural and historical legacies that have often been marginalized.

Because June 19 falls on Friday this year, it is not a workday under the HCPS summer schedule. As a result, the school division will observe the holiday Monday.

“Over the past week, I’ve engaged in several emotional and difficult conversations with employees, students and community members,” Cashwell said in the message. “They’ve shared with me the trauma they are experiencing in light of the recent acts of racism, hate and bigotry seen across our nation, as well about their personal struggles for racial equity within the Henrico County Public Schools organization. While I recognize that I can never fully understand the feelings of our African-American community, I promise I will continue to bring empathy, as well as a commitment to listen and be introspective as our organization continues this critical dialogue.

“A point that has resonated with me during these conversations is the overwhelming sentiment that Black culture is neither seen nor valued. As I reflect on this sentiment, I’m reminded that too often accounts of history have failed to elevate the voices, narratives and events that impact Black America.

“This is only the beginning of the important and difficult work we must embark on together as we ensure a safe, inclusive, culturally responsive learning and work environment for every HCPS student and employee. This requires an enduring organizational promise to be responsive in our actions, as well as an openness to change.”

The message contained several links to articles and interviews to encourage discussion and reflection. Read the entire message at https://henricoschools.us/superintendent/.

The closure will result in minimal changes at HCPS building locations, since facilities remain closed for the pandemic and most HCPS employees are working remotely, but will provide time off for staff members to observe the holiday.

Note: While schools and offices will be closed June 22 for normal business, two high schools will still hold their graduation photo sessions as scheduled, in honor of the Class of 2020. Those schools will communicate additional reminders if necessary.