Protesters rally on King George Boulevard Friday (Sept. 20) during Surrey’s Global Climate Strike, which was part of Fridays for Future. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Protesters rally on King George Boulevard Friday (Sept. 20) during Surrey’s Global Climate Strike, which was part of Fridays for Future. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Global climate strike

Surrey school district OKs students skipping class for global climate strike

Students must be excused from school by parents; will be able to make up missed work without penalty

The Surrey school district is making the move to allow students to miss class on Friday, Sept. 27 in order to attend the Vancouver Global Climate Strike.

“We live in an era of global climate change. The signs are all around us,” said superintendent Jordan Tinney in a letter to parents and guardians Sept. 20.

“While there are largescale initiatives around the globe, such as a move to electric cars and alternative forms of energy, it is clear that our efforts are insufficient. It now must be our children who will be the ones to address the issues, to formulate resolutions, and to find the will and dedication to address the complex problems facing our planet. Such will and dedication requires a call to action.”

In his letter, Tinney said many jurisdictions across Canada are making statements about the rallies and potential student participation. He said with that, districts are “reaffirming” their priority of student safety.

READ ALSO: Some Canadian schools, colleges move to accommodate climate strikes, Sept. 18, 2018

“In Surrey, if parents make a choice to excuse their children from school on Friday, September 27th, the district will follow our normal routines of marking students as ‘excused’ for the day,” Tinney says in his letter. “We are also asking our schools to ensure that if any students are excused by their parents for that day, they will be provided the opportunity to make up any missed work or tests without penalty.”

Tinney said “first and foremost,” student should speak with their teachers about missing school.

Tinney said the district encourages parents and guardians to discuss climate change and this global movement with their children.

“Climate change is real and is a critical issue for our future,” he said. “This letter is to ensure that parents are informed and to know that we want to place the responsibility for a decision to participate or not in these rallies where it belongs, which is in the hands of our parents with their children. Student advocacy and engagement in civic and global issues is a key to our future. Our vision for learning includes students caring for self, others and society and if we are to accomplish this, it must be done together.”

There is a rally planned at Vancouver City Hall Sept. 27 at 1 p.m.

The climate strikes are part of Fridays for Future, which was started by Swedish teen Greta Thunberg in August of 2018.

Thunberg, 16, sat in front of the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks to protest the lack of action on climate change.

According to fridaysforfuture.ca, the first climate strike in solidarity with Thunberg in the Americas happened in Canada on Nov. 2, 2018. There were nine youth groups striking. Thunberg will also be taking part in a march in Montreal on Sept. 27.

The rallies, Tinney said, are times to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit Sept. 21 to 23 in New York City.

He said climate change and environmental issues are deeply embedded in B.C. curriculum.

“The teachers who collaborated in writing the curriculum did so with full awareness of the challenges ahead. Educators care deeply about these issues and it is very common – from student leadership initiatives, science fair presentations, community gardens, the numerous recycling efforts and many other initiatives – to see how schools embrace the issues related to our planet and the environment every day,” said Tinney.

READ ALSO: Surrey rallies for change in global climate strike, Sept. 20, 2019



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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