The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District supports students missing class for the coming Youth Climate Strike, provided they have parental permission.
“The school district is supportive of student opportunities for leadership, especially on important subjects like climate change,” said chair Korleen Carreras.
She noted the board has only met once in the new school year and did not deliberate on the issue. However, district staff posted a letter to parents on its website on Wednesday outlining the district’s approach to student participation in what has become a global protest.
There will be a Youth Climate Strike in Maple Ridge on Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in front of city hall on Dewdney Trunk Road.
Global climate strike rallies are being held across North America on Sept. 27, to coincide with the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.
Local event organizer Sarah Johnston expects a lot of people now, with students getting a green light.
“The school district has joined the other cities allowing students to participate … so that is fantastic news,” she said.
The district is asking parents to discuss their child’s attendance as a family, and then call their school to report the absence. Students then will be allowed to make up any missed work. That is a similar approach taken by Vancouver and Surrey school districts, whose boards voted to support the Youth Climate Strike, said Johnston.
“I know a lot of the teachers are passionate,” she said, noting some educators at Hammond elementary, where her children attend, have worked climate change into the curriculum.
She added that iconic Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg shows how powerful a young person’s voice can be.
“Greta Thunberg has inspired a lot of kids.”
Johnston said she and co-organizer of the coming rally Kirk Grayson, wrote school district superintendent Sylvia Russell on Tuesday to ask for the district’s support of their event.
Wednesday morning superintendent Sylvia Russell sent a letter to parents.
”In recent days, school districts have begun to acknowledge the likelihood of student participation in these rallies, and to formally offer their support for this call to action,” said Russell in the letter.
“Here in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District, personal and social responsibility is one of our key defining values. We are committed as a district to acting as responsible stewards within our community, and we seek to develop the leadership and citizenship capacity of all learners.”
The entire letter can be found on the district’s website at sd42.ca