Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Students across the nation will walk out of school Wednesday to call for a reduction of gun violence.
The event, officially known as the "National School Walkout," is a call to Congress to pass legislation to keep students safe from gun violence.
The walkout is part of a greater movement spurred by student survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting asking for stricter gun laws.
The walkout will begin at 10 a.m. and will last for 17 minutes That's to honor the 17 students and staff members killed on Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Students are getting support from school administrators.. But some schools say they will punish students who participate, including a district in Texas that warned students that walk out will face three days of suspension.
More than 250 colleges, including USC, have released statements to prospective students saying disciplinary action because of responsible participation in peaceful protests will not hurt admission to their institution...
Richland School District One here in the Midlands is supporting students who want to take part. District
Superintendent Craig Witherspoon says that school administrators will be working with students ahead of the walkout. He says they will organize activities that will give students a voice while ensuring safety.
Witherspoon tells parents that the walkout can be a learning experience around civic engagement and social responsibility.
The walkout will be voluntary for students.
Lexington School District One released the following statement:
"Although we believe that our students have a right to have a voice in this national conversation about school safety, our number one obligation is to keep them safe. We do not think it is best practice to announce that an event will happen at a specific time and in a specific place at our schools. For that reason, our principals are working with students and helping guide them as these students plan for any peaceful observance within the school on that day.
"As a district, we are not encouraging or discouraging student participation. We are merely recognizing our students’ first amendment rights. After all, we have worked to instill in our students the knowledge that it is their responsibility to become involved citizens and to champion causes in which they believe.
"Should a student or students decide to participate in a 17-minute-long peaceful, silent observance, schools will provide appropriate supervision (administrators, school counselors, psychologists, teachers) and a law enforcement presence in order to ensure their safety.
"If a student decides to participate in a 17-minute-long peaceful, silent observance, the district will not take any disciplinary action against him/her as long as the student immediately returns to class after that time and adheres to all other district policies and procedures.
"However, we would not be surprised if some schools had no students who want to participate as we already have students expressing their feelings and opinions in other ways. Some students are writing their congressmen, state legislators and other elected officials to express their feelings about school safety.
"Students at one high school have chosen to observe March 14th by making it Kindness Day. They will have discussions about the ripple effects of kindness and they will practice random acts of kindness."