School districts across the US are banning Halloween costumes and celebrations. Elementary school students will not be allowed to wear Halloween costumes in Springfield, New Jersey, after the school superintendent, MIchael Davino, and school board said that Halloween is a “social” holiday rather than an educational one:
“I don’t believe that dressing up is something that is necessary to do at school,” he said at the meeting, according to the website Springfield Patch. “I do believe it is something you should do with your friends, something you should do with your family and it is something you should do as an activity that has really nothing to do with school or about school.”
Board of Education President Pat Venezia said the district determined Halloween had become a social holiday, not an educational holiday and acted accordingly.
“It detracts from the educational day,” Venezia said. “I can attest to that. I was once a PTA mom who helped put on those parties. You lose a whole afternoon of instruction, and because kids are anticipating it, you lose part of the morning as well. That’s just how kids are.”
A Portland, Oregon, school’s rationale for not allowing Halloween costumes is not from fears of losing instructional time, but out of concerns that celebrations for the holiday can lead to some students being excluded. Students may not wear costumes due to “social, financial and cultural differences.” The ban on costumes is really intended to serve as a call to students to embrace a “spirit of equality.”
Elsewhere, some MIchigan schools are replacing candy-filled Halloween celebrations with a “fall festival focused on health and wellness.” One Fruitport elementary school is banning costumes and the Halloween parade to “keep children safe and avoid hurt feelings.”
Eliminating Halloween celebrations — costumes, parades and parties — is due to real concerns about learning and health, as well as a wish that students without costumes not feel left out. Certainly it does seem somewhat odd to condone massive eating of sugary items in a day and age when childhood obesity is on the rise amid worries about an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. The ban on Halloween in schools is a sign of the times and reflects changes in society. But while students of course go to school to learn, does this mean that a holiday that was simply meant to be fun should no longer be allowed? Should school only be about learning, forget about anything else, like fun?
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Photo by Anika Malone