The New Westminster school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to excuse from class any high-school student with a permission slip and any middle- and elementary-school student accompanied by a parent or approved adult to attend Friday's climate strike.
A motion by school board Chair Mark Gifford first passed unanimously through the operations committee before getting unanimous consent in the regular school board meeting on Sept. 24. With the motion passed, schools will not penalize students from missing class on Friday for the strike, as long as they have parental permission or a chaperone.
Students at New West secondary are planning to walk out of class at 11 a.m. on Friday, with speeches planned outside Massey Theatre, before marching down Sixth Street to the SkyTrain station. There, the students will ride to the larger regional strike in Vancouver.
Climate strikes gained popularity in the fall of 2018, propelled by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, and continued through to the end of the last school year. The strikes have returned with the new school year, including a large New York school strike last Friday, ahead of the U.N. Climate Summit being held in that city. Thunberg spoke at that summit with powerful words reflecting evermore urgent dialogue surrounding climate change.
The urgency around climate change blew up in October 2018 following an International Panel on Climate Change report that troubled people around the globe with its stark findings. The panel determined that the world now has 11 years to cut emissions by nearly half of 2005 levels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to keep global warming to 1.5 C above preindustrial levels.
Warming to 2 C, the panel noted, would increase levels of droughts, major weather events and massive wildfires.