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Can students walk out of schools for a climate strike? Here’s what Chicago Public Schools says


Heeding the call to action to combat calamitous global warming, some young people in Chicago are planning to join a downtown march on Friday to call for action on climate change.

The walkout, part of a worldwide day of action ahead of United Nations Climate Summit on Sept. 23, is calling for an end to fossil fuels and a new way of dealing with climate-based disruption.

The Chicago Youth Climate Strike includes a march downtown at 11 a.m. Friday to raise awareness of climate change, protest the use of fossil fuels, and demand investments in renewable energy. Some students may walk out of school to join.

Will they be penalized? In a letter to principals, schools chief Janice Jackson and her deputy Tanya McDade said students would receive an unexcused absence if they didn’t return to class after the march.

In the letter, Jackson and McDade said “we respect and support our students’ desire to voice their opinions and participate in the wider conversations taking place about important social issues.” But, they added, educating students and ensuring their safety mean that students should not miss out on school.

So, the school officials said, “Students who participate in the walkout and do not return to class will receive an unexcused absence.”

To address the climate strike and students’ desire to participate, two district offices have created a resource guide for schools to engage students, provide guidance on managing student-led actions, and offer a draft letter to parents about the strike.

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