Educated Alternatives to the National School Walkout on March 14

After the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that claimed 17 lives, student anxiety about safety, mental health and gun control has sparked protests including the upcoming National School Walkout on March 14.

However, walking out not only doesn’t solve the problem, but also may put thousands of students at risk.

Instead, educators are channeling student efficacy through safer alternatives.

Here are some examples:

  • Organize a sit-in. Georgia’s Muscogee County School District’s “Speak up! Sit-in!” event features students representing each middle and high school along with state legislators representing the Columbus area. The session will be streamed live through a secure channel to each middle and high school classroom in the district.
  • Stage a safer alternative. The superintendent and student representative from Maine’s Brewer High School presented a plan that would have interested students gather in the gym on March 14 and talk to teachers, police and each other. The student-generated and organized event will provide a forum to voice concerns about security and create cards for Florida’s Parkwood schools impacted by gun violence.
  • Collaborate for a better outcome. South Pasadena High School Principal Janet Anderson and her team met with students to allow for 17 minutes during brunch to honor the fallen in Florida without being counted as truant. Those arriving to third period late will be marked as such, and students not returning will be marked as truant. “Excusing students’ absences so they will avoid natural consequences actually disempowers their efforts and takes away their sense of self-efficacy,” said Anderson. “Likewise, adult “ownership” or co-opting a student-led concerted action takes the power of voice away from young people.”


  • Request that students stay on school grounds where the school can protect their safety
  • Notify parents and students that leaving school property means that they are responsible for their own safety
  • Develop a plan with local law enforcement prior to the demonstration to:
    • Determine number of support staff needed, including police/security
    • Develop contingency plans for counter-demonstrators and disruptors
  • Meet with students to plan an activity together as exercising First Amendment rights with agreement on:
    • Purpose
    • Message
    • Walkout route
    • Security
    • Treatment of nonparticipating students
    • Alternatives for expression
    • How student absence and tardiness will be counted in class
    • Follow up in class after students return

For further examples of what others are doing, click here.

If you have any questions regarding risk management and safety issues, please do not hesitate to contact a service representative from our Education Practice Group.


Thanks to Wright Specialty Insurance for providing additional content featured within this article.

About Bolton Education Practice Group

Bolton & Company's Education Practice Group is dedicated to the unique interests and needs of schools, colleges and universities across across the globe. With more than 30 years of experience in the education space, Bolton's EPG is committed to the long-term well-being and future of educational institutions.

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