FARMINGTON — Parents and students in the Mt. Blue school district (Regional School Unit 9) are planning to stage a “freedom of choice” walkout Friday, Oct. 22.

The walkout will take place at Mt. Blue high and middle schools at 10 a.m.

The walkout is inspired by flyers circulating online suggesting a national “no mandates” walkout on Monday, Oct. 18. Some districts in California participated in the “walkouts” and “sit outs,” according to KTLA.

Parent and former Director Jesse Sillanpaa originally suggested the walkout in community Facebook groups for the district, including Parents and Community Members of RSU 9 and RSU 9 Parents for Transparency and Truth.

In a phone interview, Sillanpaa said the walkout is intended to take a stand against “the masks,” “different guidelines at different schools” and “confusion over quarantining” based on proximity, location, vaccination status and participation in the pool testing.

Sillanpaa said that parents in the district have reached out to him and expressed their frustration over these guidelines.

If all goes according to plan, high school and middle school students will walk out of their classes and join parents gathered in front of the schools at 10 a.m. Sillanpaa said that the kids can return to class after 10-15 minutes or, “if their parents want,” leave for the day.

He is encouraging participants to stay spread out outside, masked or not.

“If we stay spread out outside, the school has no reason to act upon these kids exercising their First Amendment right,” Sillanpaa said.

There are no organized walkouts planned at the elementary schools. Rather, the high school and middle school events were planned because the older kids “do understand what is going on.”

“They don’t like being forced to do things against their will. And the kids are fed up with that,” Sillanpaa said.

As of right now, Sillanpaa is expecting at least 20 students to participate. He also heard from two teachers in the district who “may be participating in the walkout (because) they don’t agree to the mandates of school.”

Sillanpaa is not involving the Board of Directors in the walkout, which he says differs from the board’s approval of the 2018 national walkout for gun control in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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