By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Schools Superintendent Joseph Sawyer presented a revised 2021-2022 school calendar to the Shrewsbury School Committee, March 24.
Since the calendar was initially proposed to the committee, March 10, Sawyer said his office received several calls from residents concerned that the original start date of September 7 was also the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah.
Sawyer told the School Committee that this was an oversight on his part.
“Given the importance of the first day of school, it would not be appropriate to have our Jewish students and staff members who observe Rosh Hashanah to miss that [first] day,” remarked Sandra Fryc, committee chair, after the meeting, acknowledging the need for Sawyer’s calendar change.
The district has a long-standing policy of holding school on “the myriad of religious holidays” observed by families and staff. Further, though, students who miss school for religious observances do so without penalty and are provided with ample opportunity to make up missed work.
“This proposed calendar follows state law regarding not holding school on legal holidays… which is structured according to the recommendations made in January 2016 by a Calendar Committee composed of staff and parents,” Sawyer said in a new memo to the School Committee dated March 24.
The revised calendar now lists Wednesday, Sept. 1 as the first day of school. Barring any snow days, the academic year will conclude on June 15, 2022.
Speaking, March 24, Sawyer noted that, should there be any snow days pushing the calendar out beyond June 20, the newly minted state holiday of Juneteenth would be observed on that date because June 19 (the date of the holiday) falls on a Sunday.
Alongside Juneteenth, this new calendar draft also includes added language of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
“It is my recommendation that this title be added to the Columbus Day holiday entry, so that it reads ‘Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day,’” Sawyer said.
That approach, he noted, includes the legal name of the holiday under Massachusetts law that requires schools to be closed, while also recognizing indigenous people.
The Committee voted unanimously to adopt the calendar.