Area schools prepare for National School Walkout Day

It's been nearly a month since a gunman killed seventeen students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Since then, students across the country have organized National School Walkout Day.

On Wednesday, March 14, students and teachers across the United States will walk out of their schools to call attention to school safety. According to national organizers, the walkout will begin at 10 a.m. and will last for 17 minutes to honor the lives of the 17 killed in the Parkland shooting.

A spokesperson for Huntsville City Schools, Keith Ward, said students are not encouraged to be absent from school. He said each principal will work with their staff to have educational age-appropriate activities available for students on the day of the walkout.

Limestone County Schools have planned a blackout to end school violence. Karen Tucker, the Director of Technology of Limestone County Schools, wrote in an email that the event is to unite teachers and students to end school violence. She said in solidarity with students, all Limestone County schools will observe the walkout by assembling at each school at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes. She said the assembly will observe the lives lost on February 14, and discuss effective communications between students and teachers.

Across the country, many schools are allowing students to walk out of class, some providing extra security to keep the event organized and safe. Some schools, however, have forbidden walkouts, saying there are concerns about safety and disruption of class time.

But can students be punished for participating in walkouts? The American Civil Liberties Union says schools can discipline students for missing class, but the punishment can't be any worse than what they would have received for skipping class any other day.  The consequences cannot be harsher because they are walking out to express a political view.

There is also the national "March for Our Lives" protest planned for Saturday, March 24. The march was started by survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The main march will be in Washington D.C., with other marches planned across the country.