One of the Nation’s Largest School Districts Will Allow Students Time Off to Protest

A district in Virginia will allow students one excused absence each year for “civic engagement activities.”

One of the nation’s largest school districts will allow students time off to protest — in a decision that comes on the heels of massive youth-led demonstrations being held over the last two years.
Starting on January 27, Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia will allow its seventh through 12th grade students one excused absence each year for “civic engagement activities.” The district has about 188,000 students, making it one of the largest school systems in the U.S.
“The school board felt that this was something that could be formalized and wanted to put into writing. There were many students who were engaged and have been engaged and it was decided that it was time to go ahead and put into place,” Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson Lucy Caldwell told local outlet WTOP.
To use their excused absence, students must give at least two days’ notice beforehand. They also need to have a parent or guardian’s permission and have to fill out a form explaining the reason they’re missing school.
Though the measure has apparently drawn criticism from conservatives, who say that it coddles liberal youth, it is impossible to ignore students’ growing activism around issues they care about. Teen activist Greta Thunberg helped spark a global movement of young people skipping school on Fridays to demand action against the global climate crisis, and student survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting organized the March for Our Lives against gun violence.