Wednesday, March 14th will mark one month since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida when 17 students and faculty members were gunned down by Nikolas Cruz. Survivors of the attack, and those who sympathize with them and hope to see positive change occur as a result, are planning a nationwide school walkout.
Meant to be both a memorial and a show of activism, students (and even some faculty) around the country may be walking out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. local time and remain outside of class for 17 minutes to honor the lives of those killed. The event is being coordinated by EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March.
According to the <a href=”https://www.womensmarch.com/” target=”_blank”>organization’s website</a>, students at three schools in Cache Valley have formally registered plans to walk out of class: <a href=”https://actionnetwork.org/events/skyview-high-school-walkout” target=”_blank”>Sky View High School</a>, <a href=”https://actionnetwork.org/events/north-cache-middle-school-walkout” target=”_blank”>North Cache Middle School</a>, and <a href=”https://actionnetwork.org/events/school-walk-out-6″ target=”_blank”>Ridgeline High School</a>. They also encourage students to wear the color orange to show solidarity. Some students and faculty at Utah State University also plan to step out for 17 minutes on Wednesday.
Nearly 3,000 walkouts are planned across the country, with nearly three dozen (and likely more) planned in Utah. Those include high schools, middle schools and universities.
Students, teachers or staff in secondary education who walk out may be subject to discipline. Logan School District Superintendent Frank Schofield issued a memo to students, faculty and parents about the district’s policies regarding student protests. He said students who participate will be marked as an unexcused absence, unless a student’s parent contacts the school to excuse it.
He said the district does not endorse or participate in any form of student protest.
“Endorsement of any one particular protest,” Schofield says, “places us in a position of choosing whether to support future protests, which potentially places the district in a position of appearing to advocate for certain positions and not others.”
The advocacy behind the nationwide walkout aims to influence Congress to enact stricter gun laws (banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines), expand background checks and to keep students safe while they are in school.
Schofield says his district supports seeking government action to prevent gun violence in schools.
“Our district supports the idea that state and national leaders should take concrete action to prevent the recurrence of acts of mass violence in our schools,” he explains. “We applaud students who choose to involve themselves in advocating for any position they believe in, including the effort to prevent mass shootings.”
Another protest, “March for Our Lives” is planned for Saturday, March 24th in Washington, DC with smaller and coordinated protests planned throughout the country. An observance for the Columbine High School shooting may also be in the works. April 20th marks the 19th anniversary of the Colorado high school shooting and organizers are calling it a “National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools.”