By Elizabeth F. McNamara

In the school calendar under consideration by the School Committee for 2020-21, the first day of school would be Monday, Aug. 31, and the last day of school would be Friday, June 18 (barring makeup days). Find it here: School Calendar 2020-21 / DRAFT A.

Under this plan, the first week of school would be a full week, which is a change. In recent years, school has started the Wednesday before Labor Day, leading to a slow-build start of the school year three days the first week, four days in week two and a full five days only by week three. 

But this year, Labor Day is Sept. 7, the latest it can be. So, to start the school year the Wednesday before Labor Day, on Sept. 2, would push the last day of school to June 22 (or June 29 if we needed five makeup days).

Under this proposal, the basics of the school year would remain the same, including weeklong vacations in February and April and no school on the Christian holiday of Good Friday and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Rosh Hashanah falls on a weekend this year).

During a discussion on the 2020-21 calendar at the School Committee meeting Tuesday night, Vice Chair Lori McEwen voiced her concern over giving days off of school for religious holidays, something she has said in previous years.

“Good Friday and Yom Kippur are not government holidays,” she said. “I am opposed to giving days off for religious reasons regardless of the religion.”

Anne Musella, Alyson Powell, and Gene Quinn echoed McEwen’s sentiments, though it’s unclear whether or not the committee would consider voting to eliminate religious holidays.

The calendar also includes days off for Primary and Election days. By state law, schools must be closed, although it’s possible one of those days could be for teacher professional development.

Interim Supt. Frank Pallotta said it would be helpful to approve the calendar sooner rather than later for planning purposes. The draft calendar will be on the committee’s agenda at its next regular meeting, Feb. 25. 

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