By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — School officials in Wausau say they are preparing to “proactively respond” should students choose to participate Wednesday in a national school walkout movement.
The walkout is a nationwide response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 people dead and 17 others injured. Since the shooting, survivors and their allies have turned their grief into activism and advocacy. Part of that effort is Wednesday’s national school walkout, which is expected to take place at 10 a.m. and last for 17 minutes.
Students and teachers across the United States will walk out of their schools and universities on Wednesday, March 14 to honor the lives of the victims while pressing lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws, according to EMPOWER, the group organizing the action.
In Wausau, walkouts are expected specifically at Horace Mann Middle School and Wausau West High School, according to EMPOWER. Rhinelander High School and Abbotsford High School are also on the group’s list.
Participants want Congress to ban assault-style weapons, require universal background checks before gun sales, and pass a gun violence restraining order law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior.
In an email sent to parents and staff members, Wausau School District officials say they are prepared if students choose to participate by leaving the classroom for another room in the school or leaving the school building for a short period of time while remaining on school grounds.
Students who fail to return to class or leave school grounds may face consequences, according to the email. Staff members present during the walkout will be there to supervise and ensure student safety, but are not specifically endorsing the walkout, officials said.
“Please know that teaching and learning will continue and all students will be supervised,” the email read. “The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority.”
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