“A regular day” in Abington schools on Friday, despite absences

A higher than average number of teachers, staff, and students are expected to be absent from Abington classrooms Friday, according to schools Superintendent Peter Schafer, but it will otherwisebe business as usual.

For the first time in recent memory, Abington schools are open on Good Friday. The Abington School Committee unanimously voted to make the change to the calendar last year.

Parents and guardians may choose to keep their children home on Friday and it will be considered an excused absence.

A social media post Thursday afternoon suggested that the number of high school teachers expected to miss school Friday would result in classes watching a movie in the cafeteria. The original post was followed by more than 100 replies, mostly critical about the Abington School Committee and its decision.

Schafer said in an email to Abington News that the post simply wasn’t true.

“We are planning a regular day. I know we have the coverage for the planned absences. There is no plan to have a movie,” he said.

“Tomorrow is a regular school day in Abington,” School Committee Chairman Chris Coyle said.

Schafer ackowledged that additional staff could call out Friday morning; if that happened the school system might have to reassess.

“We have a day of learning planned with our currently known staffing levels,” he said.

Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ and is considered one of the holiest days in Christianity. Traditionally, schools were closed to allow families to attend church services or spend time together. As church attendance declined in recent years, a few districts have started to remain open on Good Friday, but kept it as an excused absence day.

Stoughton was cited during discussions as one district that remains open on Good Friday. Its a half-day in Brockton.

The School Committee discussed the switch at its February 2022 and March 2022 meetings before voting unanimously to keep schools open on Good Friday at its April 2022 meeting. The 2022-2023 academic year calendar was then posted on the school website over the summer.

At the time, multiple school committee members said they felt students would benefit more from a school day in April than a schoolday in late June, particularly with April vacation starting a week later.

Schafer said Stoughton’s superintendent told him that the number of additional students and staff absent on Good Friday was minimal. He also said that a poll of 60 Abington teachers staff found 63% would prefer to keep Good Friday as a day off.

No parents spoke out in favor or against the change at either of the three meetings.

However, one parent voiced his strong opposition at the School Committee’s last meeting this past March. And others were very vocal about the change on a Facebook page Thursday.

“With minimal public awareness of committee meetings as well as very little advertisement to meeting agendas and upcoming votes, attendance for committee meetings has been very low. Committee members have come accustom making decisions based on their political and personal ideologies instead of representing the best interests of their constituents,” parent Joe LaPointe told Abington News Thursday night. “Taking away Good Friday is just another decision in an alarming trend that attacks families with traditional family values.”

Student athletes who miss school on Friday are not able to practice with their teams that day, Coyle said. However, they remain eligible to play in their next games.

Multiple sources spoken to by Abington News said teacher absences on Friday are not part of an organized union effort to protest the change.

“Contrary to what might be posted online, there was no union involvement or influence in the School Committee decision or individual educator choice as to whether or not they took the day for religious purposes,” Abington Education Association President Steve Shannon said.

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