PROVO — A Utah County girl whose mother was running the Boston Marathon when it was bombed in 2013 is among those arranging walkouts to protest gun violence in schools.
Kaylee Anderson will join other students throughout Utah who will be involved in walkouts that are scheduled nationwide for next Wednesday.
The walkouts will last for 17 minutes to represent the 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
"This should not be a normal thing that happens in America," Anderson said.
The events are organized by local participants in the ENOUGH: National School Walkout, which is backed by Women's March Youth EMPOWER to demand congressional action on federal gun reform.
Several school districts plan to enforce normal attendance policies the day of the walkout, which means students will need a parent to call in to excuse them from class to avoid an unexcused absence. Teachers who want to participate will have to take time off for the walkout.
Park City School District classes will continue for students who wish to stay inside, administrators said in a prepared statement.
Administrators support students' First Amendment rights but believe "the role of our educators is to remain neutral, including when a walkout is held during contract time and on school property," the district said.
At Granite schools, principles and teachers will encourage students who take part in the demonstrations to stay on campus, either on sports fields or other school areas, to make sure students stay safe, said district spokesman Ben Horsley.
"We hope they'll walk back in and reach out to somebody with kindness and love, knowing that a lot of these perpetrators have felt ostracized and bullied in the past," Horsley said.
He declined to say if schools would bring on extra officers but noted "we will allocate security and law enforcement as necessary."
Officials in Ogden School District weren't aware of any planned demonstrations as of Tuesday, said spokesman Jer Bates, but "we definitely are aware there's student interest, so we're gauging it closely."
The scene will be different at southern Utah's Washington County School District, said spokesman Steven Dunham, because the March 14 national demonstration falls on spring break. Dunham said he wasn't aware of any protests planned during the vacation period.43 comments on this story
In Utah County, Anderson said more than 30 Westlake High School students in Saratoga Springs will participate with her. Other Utah County schools with students who will walk out include Mountain View High School and Utah Valley University in Orem, Timpview High School and Brigham Young University in Provo and Rockwell Charter High School in Eagle Mountain.
Students in Utah have other events in their sights, including a March for Our Lives rally set for March 24 in Salt Lake City. Roughly 2,500 people have said on Facebook that they will attend the rally organized by West High school students.
The group of Salt Lake City students has said they want lawmakers to consider repealing the Dickey Amendment, which blocks federal funding for gun violence research.