ELKO – Students at Elko High School are planning to participate in National Walkout Day at 10 a.m. March 14 to honor the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida one month ago.
Elko High School Principal Tim Wickersham said he is supportive of his students who want to support their peers across the country; however Student Resource Officers and school staff would be posted to around the perimeter to ensure student safety during the walkout and outside visitors would not be allowed.
“It’s a simple safety issue,” Wickersham said, noting that he did not have the resources “to deal with 300 students who will walk out.”
“We do our very best to keep our kids safe,” he said.
In a statement, Elko County School District confirmed that the walkout was “a student-led initiative and is not open to the public” for schools district-wide.
“We ask that anyone from the public please respect the privacy of the students and remain off campus for the duration of the event,” said Superintendent Jeff Zander, adding that the administration supports students who decide to walk out.
“The Elko County School District supports our students in their decision to participate in a national moment of silent reflection in memorial of the tragic events that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,” said Zander.
“School officials have made accommodations to ensure this event has a minimal effect on the students’ school day and students are under no obligation to participate,” Zander continued.
Wickersham explained that he understood the students’ need to “participate in civil discourse of a problem that bothers all of us.”
“The students assured me it was not a protest, but a memorial and a show of respect and unity for the kids in Florida. Seventeen minutes of quite, respectful and safe observance is permissible,” Wickersham said.
Zander agreed, stating that teachers would “remain with students in the classroom while administration and other appropriate staff ensure the safety of students who are participating in the memorial.”
The walkout is to be one month after the school shooting in Florida involving a gunman who killed 17 students and staff members and injured 17 others.
The walkout is planned to last 17 minutes, one minute for each victim killed on Feb. 14.
According to the Women’s March Youth Empower website, the walkout is to recognize the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting and raise awareness about gun violence.
Spring Creek High School principal Keith Walz said he had not heard of any plans about his students participating in the walkout.
“I haven’t had anyone say anything,” Walz told the Free Press on Tuesday.
An anonymous threat received one week after the Parkland shooting prompted the closure of Elko High School for one day.
The threat came in late on the night of Feb. 20, and could not be verified by police in time for the start of school the following day. As a precaution, the Elko County School District closed the school.
Police said it was not a credible threat and they are still investigating the matter.