(CNN) — As students and staff return Monday to Virginia Beach schools, the superintendent encourages them to wear blue to honor shooting victims.
“For us, blue represents the beach, and the color our first responders wear when they rush toward danger to save lives every day,” Natalie Allen, communications officer for Virginia Beach, Virginia schools, told CNN.
Blue is also the background of the city flag.
On Friday, a gunman killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal building.
Aaron Spence, Virginia Beach superintendent, Saturday tweeted the announcement about wearing blue, and it was picked up by neighboring school districts.
Newport News Public Schools, Suffolk Public Schools, Hampton City Schools, Chesapeake Public Schools, Portsmouth Public Schools, the York County School Division and Isle of Wight County Schools all stated on social media they will join Virginia Beach schools in wearing blue, according to CNN affiliate WTKR.
Virginia Beach Councilman Aaron Rouse was a student at Virginia Tech 12 years ago when 32 people were gunned down. Students and faculty responded by being “Virginia Tech Strong,” he said.
“Now we are Virginia Beach Strong,” Rouse told CNN on Friday.
“I can tell you, quite frankly, that after the massacre at Virginia Tech, our community came together in Blacksburg,” he said. “Hokies across the world — not even Hokies, but American citizens — we came together. So, that’s something we have to do here in Virginia Beach. We will come together, but you have to let those victims and families know they are not alone. We are in this together.”
Virginia Beach schools will have counselors on site throughout the week for students and staff.
“Hug your loved ones close tonight,” Spence said in a statement Friday. “I know this horror is incomprehensible. We will work through it together because we are a family. Our strength and our resolve are unwavering in the city we call home.”
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