RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A private school neighboring Robert E. Lee Monument is weighing its reopening plans amid continued unrest in Richmond.
Orchard House School administrators tell 8News that the use of firearms and illegal activity near campus is a cause for concern. The news comes as students could potentially be welcomed back to the class in the coming weeks.
According to Richmond Police, the area of Lee Monument has been occupied by demonstrators for more than 60 days. Police add that some have violated ordinances. The declaration is alarming for one resident, who has lived in The Fan for more than 30 years. She told 8News something needs to change.
“When these people use the area with the intensity they do with the teacher’s parking lot and then they walk through in the median to get to school, they don’t want to walk through a lawless encampment,” said the woman, who declined to be identified by 8News.
The woman described the recent rioters in the city as a war zone.
“Last night there were five very loud gunshots that happened very close to the Orchard School and so you just don’t know what you’re going to find the next morning,” she said.
Residents report feces and trash has been found on the school’s property, resulting in a fly infestation. The school tells 8News that trespassers have even broken into the back of the gate.
Another woman who spoke out to 8News says that while she sympathizes with the ongoing protests, she shares her neighbor’s concerns.
“That entire area around the Lee Circle has just become an attractive nuisance,” said the woman, who also declined to be identified.
Another issue that’s concerning to residents is the potential spread of COVID-19.
“That’s probably going to be an even bigger concern,” the woman added.
A citywide task force is engaging folks who occupy the area on Monument and Allen avenues in hopes to curbing the health and unrest concerns of some residents.
But children remain the primary concern.
In a letter to families and staff, the Orchard House School said that it can not reopen under the current circumstances. The school has been meeting with Richmond Police Department and city officials on how to provide a safe and healthy environment.
The school plans to update parents on reopening plans Monday, Aug. 3