I am thankful for all that we accomplished in 2021, and we have laser focused vision on the “more” in 2022. I reached out about a month ago to share my concerns about the gun violence that our youth are experiencing in Durham and I heard from many of you about the impact and what you would like to do. You are already doing so much in your individual schools and it is impactful. I look forward to bringing more folks from the community into our schools through your PAAC leadership, continuing to affirm Black students and beginning to build networks of resources of support throughout various communities.

We will rise to the occasion on several fronts and develop some plans of action to take with you. Please keep a look out for upcoming Circles of Hope meetings (Mondays, Jan. 24 – Feb. 21st), PAAC activities in established schools to be a part of and support, and the work of our PAAC’s specific to middle and high school collaborations.

Our students need us and the way that you stand in the gap is one piece of the larger puzzle. Now is the time to link in more community members and leaders and build together. Together, we can create the equitable school system our children deserve to allow them to thrive and a community of support for the youth. Please check out Village of Wisdom’s event on Thursday, January 6th as they have additional requests and opportunities to tap into parent leadership.

Please heed the direction of your school administrators and the Department of Health and Human Services  (DHHS) to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Vaccinations are the first line of defense. Vaccinations are available for kids 5-18. Continue to wash your  hands, keep space and wear a mask. Also, Durham Public Schools has an “opt-in” opportunity to have your child tested for COVID-19 every week free of charge. Please get your child signed up and share this information with other parents. Here are places where you can get tested for COVID and vaccinated.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Let’s navigate the system and disrupt places of inequities. Peace and blessings in 2022.

Jovonia Lewis

EPiC Executive Director