To Hildur Palsdottir of Port Washington, nothing is more important than climate change — not even school.
That’s why Palsdottir will be taking her 9-year-old daughter, Sandra, and 10-year-old son, Vincent, out of Sousa Elementary School on Friday so they can attend a Manhattan rally with thousands of Youth Climate Strike activists calling attention to the worldwide impact of global warming.
Palsdottir said that while she planned to email school officials Thursday night about her plans, leaving school without permission would send a strong message about saving the planet.
“I did not ask for permission for the day because I am going to treat it as a strike,” she said Thursday. “For me, you could say it’s the most important thing to educate my daughter and son about the climate crisis as it will define their future. It’s a human rights issue to be educated about what’s happening and why.”
Organizers of the climate strike, which is set to take place in major cities around the globe, have called on students to cut classes on Friday to send a powerful message to world leaders as they gather in Manhattan for United Nations Week.
It was unclear how many Long Island students planned to play hooky to attend climate-related events. Syntax, a Long Island public relations firm that represents dozens of local school districts, said many of its clients were not aware of students planning to take part in climate strikes.
New York City schools last week announced students could skip school to attend rallies if they had the permission of their parents.
Among the local students planning to take part is Megan Daly of Port Washington, a junior at Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead. But the 16-year-old won’t have to strike — she and 31 classmates have the parochial school’s permission to attend an event in Manhattan, accompanied by five faculty members.
In an emailed statement, Sacred Heart president Kristin Lynch Graham and Principal Sister Jean Amore said, “Having students participate educates our whole community on our responsibility as Catholics to be good stewards of the Earth, both for today [and] for future generations.”
Daly, who used her cat-sitting money to buy reusable straws for her friends, said she hopes the rallies help end what she sees as complacency about climate change.
“I think it’s just seeing everything that’s happening and the fact that people still don’t believe it and our government doesn’t want to do anything about it,” Daly said. “If the government isn’t going to do anything, then it’s up to the people.”
Palsdottir said she has no worries about her daughter being disciplined by school officials for leaving class. She said at least a dozen other Port Washington families also have students who will strike.
”My daughter is very excited to join the rally and hear the talks in Battery Park,” Palsdottir said. “I want her to come with me to the talks because it’s a wonderful opportunity to get inspired and educated.”
The UN on Saturday will hold its inaugural Youth Climate Summit, a gathering of about 500 people between the ages of 18 and 29 who will discuss ways of addressing climate change.
Saad Amer, 25, of Medford, who will take part in the summit, said the conference and rallies should demonstrate to UN delegates that they need to do more than simply discuss an issue that threatens to destroy life as we know it.
“There’s been just unfathomable, perfect science on this. Even still, we just debate and debate and debate, and no one does anything,” Amer said. “In many ways, this strike is to show solidarity among young people on the international level to show the UN just how important this is.”