EVANS, GA (WFXG) - Local students join thousands across the country for National School Walkout Day.
Students walk out of class for 17 minutes at 10:00 a.m.
It comes on the 1-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
School systems across the CSRA are handling the day differently.
Richmond County Schools released the following statement:
"The Richmond County School System is aware our students may have a desire to participate in the school walkout scheduled for March 14th in order to protest school violence and to honor the 17 students who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th.
We recognize students may want to exercise their First Amendment rights, while others may want to participate in class as usual. We believe we have a responsibility to teach students how to express their beliefs in a peaceful and productive manner in order to highlight the message, not the actual activity. Schools have also planned other school-related activities to memorialize the 17 victims. We want to ensure all students feel safe and respected, regardless of how they choose to participate. In the event of a student walkout, Principals have been instructed to provide appropriate space for the students to memorialize the day and voice their support for the wider movement. All RCSS staff have been advised to remain neutral in order to support the various opinions held by our students and the broader community. In keeping with the expectations of the Richmond County School System, and the walkout movement, students will be expected to remain on campus and return to class at the conclusion of the walkout. Students who choose to remain in class will continue with their lessons as planned.
The RCBOE Department of School Safety and Security will be on site to ensure no outside individuals or organizations enter campus to participate with, or disrupt, the students. Again, the safety of all students is our primary focus. We would encourage outside individuals and organizations to speak with students prior to the event to discuss appropriate ways to voice their opinions and to peacefully demonstrate."\
Aiken County Schools released the following statement:
"Aiken County Public Schools administration and board respect and support the right of our students to advocate for causes of importance to them and we recognize the unfortunate reality that there is likely no greater concern to students throughout the nation than school safety.
Our priority for Wednesday and every day is to support the academic and social emotional needs of our students while maintaining a safe learning environment for all.
There are unique, student-led efforts being planned for Wednesday to honor victims of school violence and encourage change within their school culture, specifically related to how students treat one another, hold one another accountable for creating and sustaining safe learning environments, and work together with administration to prevent threats of violence at their schools.
Our schools are prepared for the possibility of a walkout or other peaceful protest. In an effort to support students' interests while maintaining a safe and orderly environment and minimizing the possibility of lost instructional time, our administrators have made several requests to students who've expressed interest in organizing an effort:
Students remain on campus and gather in a designated area where they can be supervised and safe.
Collaborate with administration to plan activities at a time that minimizes impact to the instructional day.
Be understanding and respectful of differing opinions, including students who choose not to participate.
Return to classrooms and regular school activities in a timely manner.
We have appreciated the understanding of student leadership in meeting these requests and believe in the ability of Aiken County's students to behave appropriately and in a way that models the peaceful school environments they have expressed interest in advocated for. Our District's schools will address conduct that disrupts school operations and falls outside of the above guidelines in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct."
Burke County Schools released this statement:
"If our students want to "walk-out" Wednesday, we are allowing them to do so, but only for 17 minutes and they cannot leave campus."
Columbia County Schools will not be allowing students to walk out for safety concerns but administrators did get together with students leaders at each school to come up with a solution.
Penny Jackson, assistant superintendent for Columbia County Schools explained.
"They put together by school different, we'll call them activities. Some of them , the majority of them, are staying in class and they've put together Powerpoints and it's more about reflection on the Parkland tragedy as well as what have we learned from that." said Jackson. "Some of them are doing activities such as making a banner to send to Parkland. Some of them are writing letters to the Parkland students. Some of them are writing letters to legislators. Evans High is having an assembly that's student led."
Jackson explained that the school system wants to handle the day as business as usual so any student that does walk out has a First Amendment right to do so, but will have to face the consequences.