VIRGINIA BEACH — Public school students throughout the nation are slated to participate in a walkout Friday to honor victims of school violence, which will occur on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings.
Ten Virginia Beach schools are registered to participate in the walk-out on an activism website. The text beneath First Colonial High School’s registration on the website reads “Together, we will send a message that we won’t tolerate any more inaction on this issue. And if cowardly politicians fail to act, young people will show them the consequences of letting so many Americans die by voting them out in November.”
The registration on this website appears to have been submitted by participating students and not by city representatives. Virginia Beach City Public Schools emailed parents this week about the upcoming protests.
VCPB spokeswoman Eileen Cox said walkouts that may happen at any city schools on Friday are not sanctioned by the school system; however, staff will neither encourage nor discourage students from participating
Area students also participated in another national walkout in March to protest gun violence, but the walkout was only planned for 17 minutes — representing the 17 people who were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14.
Organizers of Friday’s protest, however, are encouraging students to leave school at 10 a.m. and not return for the rest of the day, according to the email sent to parents by VBCPS, which also stated that “walkout participants will be asked to return to class after 30 minutes.”
VBCPS’s approach to disciplinary action, according to the email sent to parents:
- Any student who chooses to participate will be marked with an unexcused absence from any missed class period(s) during the walkout.
- Students who return to class within 30 minutes will be allowed to make up missed assignments.
- However, make up work for students who do not return to class within 30 minutes will only be accepted at the teacher’s discretion, subject to the guidelines set at the beginning of the course for unexcused absences.
- As a reminder, leaving the school campus without following proper early dismissal procedures is a violation of School Board Regulation 5-63.1, which will result in disciplinary action.
Although VBCPS said it will not discourage participation, it sent out the email to keep parents informed.
“We simply ask that you take all of this information into consideration when discussing these events with your children,” according to the email.