GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Public Schools will take part in nationwide walkout following a deadly school shooting in Florida.
GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal said she and the entire district will participate in the National School Walkout at 10 a.m. March 14.
“I think it is better that we organize and work with our young people, rather than to just allow them to go,” Weatherall Neal told 24 Hour News 8.
Students and staff will walk out for 17 minutes, one minute for each person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The nationwide walkout is an effort to push for stricter gun control and expanded mental health resources.
“I stand with my students! I stand with my teachers, school leaders, and support staff,” Weatherall said in a news release. “I believe it is important that we as a school district unite in support of this national school walk out to send a clear message to state and federal lawmakers that action is needed to update gun laws and ensure our schools are safe and secure learning environments.”
Permission slips are going home to let parents decide if they want their kids to participate. Kindergarten through eighth-grade students will walk inside and high schoolers will walk outside.
“It is a political issue, but it doesn’t have to be. It can also be a teachable moment,” Weatherall Neal said. “It’s not a stance for me to say this is right or wrong, but it is an opportunity to teach our young people, if you see someone with a gun, if you think you see something, you should say something.”
There will be lessons about school safety the week leading to the walkout.