The superintendent of School District 71 will not be preventing or disciplining students from participating in an upcoming March for Climate Change Friday at Simms Millennial Park.
In a briefing note, superintendent Tom Demeo said while the district is not encouraging students to miss class, he recognizes that the climate strike is a way in which students are able to demonstrate their concern and commitment to matters that are important to them and their community.
“Environmental sustainability is recognized as a key priority in our strategic plan and as such we understand the importance of addressing our global climate situation,” he noted.
“We trust that all of our students will engage in meaningful discussion regarding this very important topic with their teachers, their parents and will apprise their families of their intended plan of action.”
However, he added schools are required to record student attendance and no discipline will be given for participating in the event.
On Sept. 27, members of the Youth Environmental Action Team is planning a rally at 1 p.m. at the park to bring awareness to and prevent the escalation of climate change.
The YEA is a youth group dedicated to empowering and educating youth on climate change and how to take action to fight the crisis.
The strike is set to coincide with the Global Week for Future – Sept. 20 to 27. Similar rallies have been happening throughout the world.
Mackai Sharp, a high school student and co-head and social media/marketing manager for YEA said the previous climate march – held in May – showed an “amazing presence in the community” and he hopes the second one will bring out even more people.
Teri Mooring, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation sent an email Sept. 18 to the board of education chairs on behalf of the 43,000 B.C. public school teachers about the planned climate strikes and wrote the BCTF fully believes “that our students feel a need to be part of the solution to this existential crisis.”
The BCTF is asking the boards of education to support students who wish to attend the strikes, to excuse student absences on both dates (Sept. 20 and 27) and to encourage teachers who wish to organize field trips to accompany their students to the climate actions in their communities.
“To be clear, we understand that student absences would still be reported to parents in the usual manner,” Mooring wrote.
“It is hoped that the board of education will help facilitate this important learning experience of a worldwide collective action moving towards systemic change to protect our planet. If teachers know they have the backing of their employer to use these events as a teachable moment, not only does this support staff but also tells your students that we all value their stand to protect the planet.
“It is an important moment in history. Let’s support students and their teachers to take a stand for what they believe in.”