Green Games

NYC just announced that it’s 1.1 million students are allowed to skip class for the climate protest

New York City’s 1.1 million public school students will be allowed to skip class to participate in global climate strike protests scheduled for this Friday, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in Manhattan. Youth strike advocates Fridays for Future said more than 2400 events were taking place from Sept. 20 through Sept. 27, globally, to coincide with the UN climate summit on Sept. 23.

Middle and high school students who attend the protests with parental consent will receive an excused absence, while younger students will need to be signed out by a parent, according to the city’s Department of Education.

“We applaud our students when they raise their voices in a safe and respectful manner on issues that matter to them,” the Department of Education said in a statement posted on Twitter

By itself, the turnout for the protest in New York  including the city’s 1.1 million public school students — is a test of the movement’s ability to make itself felt by disrupting everyday life and getting noticed by the political leaders who are gathering in New York for the climate summit and the General Assembly meeting that follows it.

Demonstrators as young as 9 had already turned up to greet the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg when she arrived last month by an emissions-free yacht in New York Harbor. Greta has inspired Friday student protests in at least 100 countries.

But the excused absences do not by themselves solve every puzzle. Several  teachers said they felt torn between attending the strikes and staying in class to teach on the subject to students without permission to leave. And while young children are increasingly showing interest in joining demonstrations, elementary school students, as on ordinary school days, are not allowed to leave school without a caretaker, which will limit the number who can take part. Some teachers have quietly groused that it would be more effective to teach students in school about climate; and critics of the decision argued that Mr. de Blasio risked politicizing education by granting excused absences for particular causes.

The Education Department will send guidelines to schools on Tuesday, encouraging them to hold discussions “about the impact of climate change and the importance of civic engagement,” said a spokesman, Will Mantell. Even 600 medical professionals across the country have also signed a virtual “doctor’s note” encouraging teachers to excuse students on the grounds that climate change is dangerous to their and others’ health.

The excused absence could be a game changer in the future of the climate protests, it could lead to a massive participation, only time will show us the effects.