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Amid school closures, students embraced across the city

Baltimore students are being welcomed to businesses and institutions Tuesday after violent riots broke out throughout the city Monday night -- starting with a confrontation of high schoolers and police at Mondawmin Mall -- prompting the school system to shut down.

The city's department of parks and recreation will alter its hours Tuesday as a result of school closures, according to a release from the department. All city recreation centers will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the department said, and any student is invited to visit them.

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The department said it remains "committed to offering quality programming and a safe space for our children and the residents of Baltimore."

Red Emma's, located at 30 W. North Ave., will offer free lunch to all city students from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a spokesperson for the coffee shop said. The restaurant said on its Instagram page that it was doing so "because the city shut down the schools and kids depend on school lunches."

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City students were also invited to go to the Empowerment Temple beginning at 10 a.m., according to the Rev. Jamal H. Bryant.

Parents received a robocall from city schools CEO Gregory Thornton last night explaining the school system's decision to close.

"We have heightened responsibility to our students families and school communities," he said. "For that reason I've made a decision to close schools tomorrow. I'm deeply concerned about our students and our community."

The school system also released a statement Monday, saying that it would make crisis counselors and mental health professionals available in schools and deploy senior staff and school police to ensure safe passages of students.

"We are also communicating with each one of our school leaders around effective instructional strategies to heighten student awareness and understanding of social justice issues," the statement continued.

We are deeply concerned about our students and community, and we hope to treat this situation not only as a teachable moment but also a time for thoughtful reflection on how we can reduce conflict and violence in our society. We will continue to be vigilant in our support for all of the city's young people."

erica.green@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EricLG

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