Springfield students are saying “boo” this Halloween season. And not because they’re dressing as ghosts.
Springfield schools are preventing students from wearing Halloween costumes during school hours, saying that costumes disrupt instruction.
Elementary school children had previously been able to change into costumes prior to the schools’ Halloween parties. Principals of Springfield schools sent out to parents notifying them that costumes would not be allowed at school this year.
Many Springfield elementary school students were unhappy about the new policy, and several attended the Oct. 17 meeting of the Township School Board to voice their objection.
“We all still understand we can not wear masks or other things to cover our faces because it’s a safety issue,” a fifth grade student at said. “But I do not understand why we cannot wear costumes on Halloween. If it’s a problem that the bathrooms get too wild, we can just come to school in our costumes.”
Other students decried the lack of opportunity to dress for the holiday.
“Dressing up in costumes is one of the best parts of Halloweeen,” another fifth grade student at Sandmeier said. “After homework, there isn’t much time to get dressed up for Halloween.”
Springfield Schools Superintendent Michael Davino said that he had asked the principals of Springfield schools to phase out the Halloween parties three to four years ago and was chagrined at the continued existence of the events, which he said were more disruptive than the costumes.
“In fact there are lots of other issues involving the food coming in, such as non nutritious snacks and items that federal law has already been giving us issues about,” Davino said.
Davino said he was sensitive to the complaint that students were finding it difficult to go out trick or treating following completing homework and said he was considering speaking with teachers about easing homework burdens on the day of the holiday.
“I believe it is an activity that should be done as a family so that those who really don’t want not to have the opportunity to choose to do that or not,” Davino said. “I don’t believe that dressing up is something that is necessary to do at school. I do believe it is something you should do with your friends, believe it is 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.”
He said he understood the shock expressed by students, but that the move was necessary for education.
“Changing costumes cuts into educational time,” Davino said. “It took an inordinate amount of time to get them out of the bathrooms.”
Davino added that dressing as characters negatively impacts the ability of students to focus on instructions and lessons.
Springfield parent Debra Bachman asserted that the Halloween party aside, plenty of class time is wasted anyhow. She said that in the school days leading up to other holidays, students watch movies and take part in votes on non-academic school activities.
“Why are you begrudging these children a childhood right of passage,” she asked.
School Board member Scott Silverstein noted that while students were prohibited from wearing costumes during class time, they were encouraged to wear them to one school; on Sunday, Oct. 30, when Jonathan Dayton High School hosts the school district’s annual Trunk or Treat fundraiser. Other board members pointed to the Township’s annual children’s Halloween party, held after school on Halloween day at the Chisholm recreation center.
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