Have a Merry “day off” and a Happy “day off”!
That’s the message from the school board of Randolph Township in Morris County, New Jersey, which unanimously voted Thursday to remove holiday names from their academic calendar following an uproar over renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, according to reports.
Now holidays like Thanksgiving and Memorial Day, as well as Jewish holy days like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will simply be listed as “day off.”
“If we don’t have anything on the calendar, we don’t have to have anyone [with] hurt feelings or anything like that,” board member Dorene Roche told Fox 5.
Another board member, Ronald Conti, reportedly said before the vote that “I don’t think really it is the board’s responsibility to be naming these holidays. Either take them off or just adopt whatever the federal and state governments are doing.”
According to local website Tap into Randolph, up to 125 people attended Thursday’s board meeting to oppose the Columbus Day change, which the board approved unanimously last month.
The website reported that Republican state Sen. Anthony Bucco was among those who attended the meeting and spoke out against the change, while three members of the public spoke in favor of the change despite being outnumbered by supporters of keeping Columbus Day.
Other residents reportedly objected to the fact that the initial vote to rename the holiday was taken without public notice.
The vote to strip holiday names from the calendar reportedly caused confusion, with some attendees reportedly yelling, “What happened? What did you just do?” at board members.
As of Friday, the Randolph Township School District’s 2021-2022 academic calendar was available with the holiday names included.
The backlash was similar to the one faced by New York City’s Education Department earlier this year when it abruptly announced Columbus Day — celebrated on the second Monday of October — would be celebrated as Indigenous People’s Day. After an uproar from Italian-American groups, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced schools would be closed Oct. 11 to mark “Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day.”
Dozens of cities and jurisdictions across the US have ditched Columbus Day in favor of honoring Native Americans after the emergence of scholarship highlighting the Genoa-born explorer’s cruelty to indigenous populations.