Approximately 35 students walk out of Loy Norrix in protest against KPS COVID protocols and policing in schools

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Credit: Gigi Fox

Loy Norrix students led by members of third party organizations and fellow student leaders stand outside of Loy Norrix High School. Students walked out to protest KPS COVID and policing policies.

Hannah Locke, Copy Editor

At 9:00 a.m., on January 17, 2022, approximately 35 students walked out of school, lead by third party organizations such as Black Lives Matter Kalamazoo Battle Creek and Food not Bombs, in collabortation with a few student leaders.

Students protest KPS policies in front of Loy Norrix High School. (Credit: Gigi Fox)

Earlier that morning, Loy Norrix principal Christopher Aguinaga, encouraged students to seek change through different methods.

Junior Clover Greenwald voices concerns of problems at Loy Norrix during the student walkout led by the Kalamazoo chapter of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Greenwald conveys their emotions with concurring students and community members around them. (Credit: Gigi Fox)

“If you have concerns regarding our COVID policies or how we handle discipline in the school, particularly when it comes to students of color, I would encourage you to please reach out to me. I want to have those conversations with you,” Aguinaga said over the morning announcements.

He continued, “Students, if you feel a walk out is necessary, I would like to have dialogue with student leaders to discuss that, but quite frankly what I see being organized this morning is one: unsafe, is disruptive to the learning environment, and I don’t feel it truly represents the desires and needs of the student body.” 

Concerns over the third-parties involved also created confusion over details of the walk-out and its purpose, as well as a concern for the safety of students involved.

“I am concerned that the origins of this walkout do not seem to be organic to our student body which leads me to a security concern for our student body and students,” Aguinaga said.

After urging students to remain in class, Aguinaga told students that if they were to participate then they would not be allowed back in the building without teacher permission or

Senior James Hauke speaks to walk-out participants about the COVID policies in the KPS district. (Credit: Gigi Fox)

parental consent.  

The Instagram post, posted by Black Lives Matter Kalamazoo Battle Creek, called for student participation. “We can’t learn in a unsafe environment! KPS isn’t taking COVID, violence, and racism seriously! We have to stand together and refuse to return until our demands are met!”

Senior James Hauke was one of the student organizers and said, “The purpose of the walk-out is to demonstrate that schools, as of now, are unsafe for our students and that we really

want to push for the readdressing of COVID protocols and policing protocols.”

In another infographic put out by student organizers, the demands of the protesters were listed: “Some of our demands include: Reassessing the lax COVID protocols, reassessing the police presence at our schools, and others to be voiced at the protest.” No specific solutions to these grievances were stated through social media. 

“All students have the right to education free from hostility,” said Oya, a Black Lives Matter organizer who was at the walk-out. 

Students and adults in attendance all had their reasons for being in attendance and some even felt obligated to voice their opinions. 

Freshman JaLayna Jones said, “I’m sad cause I’m the only Black student, but it’s MLK Day, and I feel like I should respect the ones who marched for us so I could be in this school, so that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Freshman JaLayna Jones speaks to walk-out participants about the security and disciplinary measures at Loy Norrix High School. (Credit: Gigi Fox)

Throughout the protest, students stood in a circle and invited one another to speak. There were various student speakers as well as parents and Black Lives Matter organizers who spoke. 

The speaking began to dwindle after around 45 minutes of standing outside of the school and then students began trying to re enter the building with the help of the adults participating. Locked doors prevented these students from reentering at first, but soon students were offered the opportunity to return to class through the tower, LN’s main entrance.