Thousands participate in "Day Without Immigrants" event

DODGE CITY, Kan. (KWCH) More than 2,400 students were absent from Dodge City schools on Thursday.

The high number of absences comes as a boycott called, "A Day without Immigrants," is sweeping across the nation.

The boycott is in response to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration.

A flyer that has been circulating across the internet calls for participants to not go to work or school, not to shop online or in stores, and not to buy gas.

"WITHOUT US AND OUR CONTRIBUTION, THIS COUNTRY IS PARALYZED!!!!!!" Reads the flyer.

Here's a preliminary number of district-wide absences in Dodge City,

Bright Beginnings Early Childhood Center - 75
Beeson Elementary School - 115
Central Elementary School - 112
Linn Elementary School - 123
Miller Elementary School - 190
Northwest Elementary School - 121
Ross Elementary School - 143
Soule Elementary School - 104
Sunnyside Elementary School - 143
Wilroads Gardens Elementary School - 34
Comanche Middle School - 261
Dodge City Middle School - 304
Dodge City High School - as of 9:45 a.m. - 814
Alternative Education – 54

A rally was held in Wichita in cooperation with the boycott.

Eyewitness News reached out to Wichita Public Schools to see if their numbers were affected. The district says it has twice as many unexcused absences as it did on Wednesday. The district says it does not have a specific reason. The number does not include excused absences.

We found that 275 Wichita North High School students had an unexcused absence Thursday. That's a jump from an average of about 135 for the past two Thursdays. It's something Principal Sherman Padgett thinks could be attributed to the "Day Without Immigrants" event.

"(It) doesn't necessarily mean that they're participating in a particular event, it could just be that they're taking the day off to send the same message they've read about online or heard from families," Padgett says.

The North High School principal says he knows of 12 parents who called in Thursday, saying their students were taking part in the protest.

"The message I would send to kids is that I love them and respect them, and I respect their need to make an impact," he says. "But I don't want it to be at the expense of their own educations."

Some businesses also shut down in Dodge City and Wichita. In Wichita, the march started at 10 a.m. at the Nomar International Plaza near 21st and Broadway, with hundreds turning out to support the cause. People taking part in the "Day Without Immigrants" event say it was about standing with immigrant communities and sending a message about what they believe America should be.

"This town would really be nothing without our immigrant friends," said Teresa Vincent, who joined the effort in Wichita.