Students from several Loudoun County high schools will hold a “walk out” Friday afternoon in protest to President Donald Trump’s temporary immigration ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The Broad Run High School junior Rida Ali who is organizing the protest has asked students who are immigrants, children of immigrants, or supporters of immigrants to walk out of school at 2:25 p.m. She said she wants the demonstration to be nonpolitical, but spread awareness about the importance of immigrants.
“Everybody came to the United States at some point in their family line,” Ali said. “And, if everybody walked out, that would show how empty our classrooms are, our hallways are, and how empty America is without immigrants.”
She initially planned the walk out at Briar Woods, but students have since began organizing walk outs at Broad Run, Rock Ridge, Briar Woods, Loudoun Valley, Potomac Falls and possibly other local high schools, Ali said.
She urged her fellow students to be civil, to not chant, but instead stand silently with posters. “Let’s stand united,” she added.
Since news of the walk out spread, Nereida C. Gonzalez-Sales, director of high school education, has held video conference meetings with all of the county’s 15 high school principal to “check the campus climate,” according to Public Information Officer Wayde Byard.
Gonzalez-Sales and principals agreed that there will be consequences for leaving school early based on school practices for tardies, absences and/or leaving school without permission.
School resource officers and other security specialists will be on the campuses to make sure the students and others are safe. “We’re designating areas where they can go if they wish to walk out. Our primary concern is keeping students safe,” Byard said.
He said that the students organizing the protest have met with their principals and have been upfront about their plan. “The students have been very respectful—nothing antagonistic,” he said. Their intentions may be good, but they are still leaving school early, Byard added. “Anytime there’s a disruption in the school day, it concerns us.”
This article was updated at Thursday, Feb. 9 at 5:49 p.m.