Update: Richmond superintendent leaves climate strike absences up to parents

Students are excused from school with parent permission

The Richmond school board is allowing students to participate in a walkout event, with parent permission, as part of the Global Climate Strike taking place in multiple locations around the world on Sept. 27.

In a letter addressed to parents and guardians on Monday, Scott Robinson, superintendent of the Richmond School District, said the decision whether students can attend the global climate strike rally in Vancouver rests with parents.

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“If you wish to excuse your child from school to attend the rally, we ask that you contact your child’s school in advance to provide your permission,” Robinson said in the letter posted to the district website.

If students attend the rally with parental permission, they will be marked “absent-excused” and will be “considered under the supervision of their parent.”

In the letter addressed to parents, Robinson said there is “ample evidence” that climate change is real, and this week teachers are being encouraged to discuss the issue with their students.

Sandra Nixon, a Richmond school trustee, tweeted last week that “Richmond school district is encouraging educators to engage in discussions in classroom and supporting schools to organize events and field trips” for climate action week.

She added that “student absences (with parent permission) to attend climate strike events will be excused.”

Last week, David Sadler, communications director of the Richmond School District, said secondary school students are allowed to leave school to participate in the climate strike as long as they have parent or guardian permission. He added that elementary students “will only be permitted to leave school with parent (or) guardian supervision.”

Students at Richmond’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) are planning to walk out of campus next week.

The climate change walkout, hosted by KPU’s Sustainable Agriculture Student Association (SASA), will start at noon in front of the Richmond campus next Friday.

And at 12:45 p.m., participants will travel together by Skytrain to join others at the Vancouver Climate Strike, which will be from 1 to 5 p.m. in front of Vancouver City Hall.

“We really want this event to be welcoming for everyone in Richmond and not just KPU,” said Angeli dela Rosa, KPU student and president of the SASA.

The student association believes that “we finally need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis” and “the future isn’t some abstract time down the road; the future is here.”

Meanwhile, Richmond-based Nature’s Path Organic business expects nearly all of its 117 Richmond-based employees to stop work and join the young environmental activists in the strike on the same day.

“We have to work together to bring positive change to our planet and reduce the impact of climate change”, said Jyoti Stephens, vice-president, Mission and Strategy for Nature’s Path, in a release.

“Our Nature’s Path team members stand in solidarity with the young activists in Vancouver and across the globe participating in the Global Climate Strikes.”  

The Richmond-based business is encouraging all three of their manufacturing plants across North America to “participate in local strikes, as well as rallying other businesses to join them in the walkout.”

Some Canadian universities have cancelled classes to support the cause, but Vancouver post-secondary institutions will remain open that day.

Alan Davis, KPU president, said that the school supports environmental sustainability and climate justice, and is inspired to see students “giving voice to these matters” as they “seek action on the global climate crisis.”

Davis told the News that KPU will remain open and that it will be “a regular work day for all employees,” adding that “those interested in taking time off to participate in the action can request time off.”

“Faculty, as they always do, will use their own good judgment to adapt to and leverage the action in ways that foster further discussion and engagement.”

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