Utah teachers face dilemma over national school walkout

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah schools are preparing for students to take part in the National School Walk out on Wednesday. They’re also addressing how they’ll handle teachers who choose to participate.

It's a dilemma facing many Utah teachers: do they keep their political views to themselves? Or let their students know where they stand?

At Mary Jackson Elementary in Salt Lake City, students are attending an assembly Wednesday morning.

The national walkout honors the 17 people who died in the Parkland Florida School shooting and calls for stricter gun laws.

“Our main goal is to keep children safe. We want to make sure that we support them in learning how to be community advocates in appropriate manners,” said Dr. Jana Edward, Principal of Mary Jackson Elementary.

Edward is balancing the concerns of parents as well as teachers who support the movement. While some teachers in other districts are taking a hands-off approach due to district policies prohibiting political activism in the classroom, Edward welcomes the discourse.

“It's why I went into administration so I can become an advocate for teachers and I sincerely hope my teachers feel supported no matter where they fall on the line of this walkout.”

The Salt Lake City School District has 20 schools taking part in the walkout. They say teachers can participate, but there are exceptions.

“Generally, the rule is students come first,” said Yandary Chatwin, SLCSD spokesperson. “If a teacher is teaching during the walkout time and they have a room full of students who choose to stay, obviously the teacher needs to stay as well.”

Chatwin says if a teacher leaves the students to participate in the walkout, he/she will be disciplined.

A teacher’s best move would be to use the day as a teaching moment.

“A lot of teachers are taking this as an educational opportunity to have different discussions with students and tailoring it to the grade level.”

For a list of schools participating, click here: https://www.womensmarch.com/enough