In a letter to parents and students Accomack County School Superintendent W. C. Holland addressed the issue of a possible March 14, walkout to protest school shootings.
Holland said, “we are aware that on March 14, 2018 some students across the country are considering to protest or walkout of school in response to the National School Walkout in memory of the students and staff of Stoneman Douglas High School. Our top priority is to support the academic and social emotional needs of our students while maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment for all. We respect and support the right of our students to advocate for causes that are important to them and welcome the opportunity to work with any student or student group to discuss appropriate and creative ways to do so while at school.
I encourage you to talk to your children about how they may be feeling about the mass school shootings and the importance of expressing themselves in appropriate ways at school. As educators, we recognize that student activism is a part of the learning process. When kids are passionate about an issue, it is an opportunity for educators to help students see the connection between curriculum and real life. We will be doing this in school, aligned with our curriculum and state standards.
In addition, it is important to know that disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations is not acceptable and will be handled compassionately, but firmly, in accordance with the Accomack County Public Schools’ Code of Student Conduct. We are proactively working with staff, counselors and local law enforcement to ensure any student-led efforts are handled in the most peaceful, respectful way and in the best interest of our children.
Please encourage your children to adhere to the following guidelines if they choose to participate. The walkout will occur at 10:00 AM and last for 17 minutes. One minute for each of the victims of Stoneman Douglas High School. Students will assemble to an area designated by the building principal. Students will return to classes no later than 10:30 AM to resume instruction.
Thank you for your continued support of Accomack County Public Schools. Please contact your building administrators if you have any questions or concerns. “
Meanwhile, Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox is putting together a special committee to come up with recommendations to make schools safer in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.
Cox, a Republican, announced Thursday the formation of a select committee to study emergency preparedness, security infrastructure, behavioral health resources and other areas related to school safety. The committee will recommend legislation for the General Assembly to consider during next year’s session.
Democrats quickly panned the proposal as insufficient because it does not focus on guns. Democratic Minority Leader Del. Toscano said school safety needs to be part of a broader discussion on how to reduce gun violence.