Local Schools Prepare For National Student Walkouts Over Gun Violence

Local Schools Prepare For National Student Walkouts Over Gun Violence

2:22pm Mar 13, 2018
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Education building on Bethania Station Rd. KERI BROWN/WFDD

Some Triad students are planning a walkout Wednesday to protest gun violence and promote school safety.

Since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, demonstrations have sprung up on school campuses all over the country.

But the first large-scale, coordinated national demonstration is planned for Wednesday at 10 a.m. Organizers of the Women’s March have called for a 17-minute walkout, one minute for each of the 17 students and staff members killed in Florida.

School administrators have been scrambling to figure out how to let students exercise their First Amendment rights while neither disrupting school nor pulling administrators into the gun control debate.

“Should the students opt to participate in some type of walkout, our schools have some plans in place to ensure honor and respect," says Brent Campbell, spokesman for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. "We honor and value the student voice and their First Amendment right to free speech, but we also have some concerns about student safety in an event that’s been so publicly promoted around the country.”

Some schools across the country have said they will suspend those who participate. Others are setting up on-campus locations where students can express their views.

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools says it's not encouraging the efforts or taking a stance against the demonstrations. Instead, Campbell says administrators have been discussing other ways for students to show their support.

“Can they do some banners of support? Can they do an entire poster? Can they do a balloon launch? There have been multiple conversations about multiple ways that students can have their voice heard and displayed in a way that is consistent with policy and procedure and in a way that’s not disruptive to the school day,” he says.

Campbell adds that the district will enforce its closed campus policy, and outside demonstrators will not be allowed on school property.

National demonstrations are also planned for March 24, with a march on Washington, D.C.; and on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

Copyright 2018 WFDD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.
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