Melrose cancels in-school Halloween celebrations to foster inclusion

MELROSE, Mass. — Melrose Public Schools will no longer celebrate Halloween during school hours, shifting instead to autumn-themed activities in its elementary schools in an effort to foster inclusion, the superintendent said.

“Over the past several years, MPS has worked to deemphasize Halloween and shift our focus toward community building through fall celebrations,” Friday’s letter from Dr. Julie Kukenberger reads. “As we work to address unfinished learning, two of our key priorities are 1.) equity and the inclusion of all students and 2.) fostering a sense of belonging and partnership with all students, families and staff.”

Many Melrose families are upset with the change, which was first reported by MelrosePatch. By Monday night, more than 1,300 people had signed a petition called ‘Keep Halloween for Our Kids.’

“A day that is merely about costumes and fun has turned political,” the creator of the petition wrote.

Parents are also organizing a citywide costume parade, calling on people to “break out the costumes, bring your Halloween spirit and meet at the high school parking lot.”

The event, advertised with the hashtag #MelroseSavesHalloween, was originally scheduled for Tuesday but has been moved to Thursday, from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., due to expected rain. Organizers encourage attendees to bring signs in support of their mission.

Kukenberger is reviewing other traditions among the district’s elementary schools to ensure they, too, fit with MPS’ mantra of, “one community, open to all,” she wrote.

“I am working in collaboration with our elementary principals to map out, month by month, the traditions and events that have occurred in our schools,” the letter reads. “Together we will create guidelines that are safe, inclusive and equitable to be implemented with consistency.”

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