New York City’s Department of Education made the announcement last Thursday, saying that 1.1 million public school students could skip class to participate in the strike if they had parental consent.
Friday’s youth climate strikes will come three days before the United Nations Climate Action in New York City, and the General Assembly meeting that follows it. Other climate strike protests are expected around the world with millions in attendance, The New York Times reported.
“This is so cool! NYC Public Schools are letting students leave class to join the #ClimateStrike on September 20th,” wrote Jamie Henn, founder of the environmental organization 350.org. “Also, holy smokes, this thing could get HUGE.”
But some critics, cited by The New York Times, accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of allowing the permissive policy to further his own political interests. The New York Post's editorial board, meanwhile, derided the decision as an “out-and-out government sponsorship of a particular point of view.”
Other school districts in the country’s largest cities were debating Monday afternoon whether to follow suit. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District told The Times that officials were “still finalizing plans.”
Last year, thousands of students walked out of classrooms nationwide to protest violence and call for new gun control measures in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead and sparked a grassroots wave of activism.