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School district in Michigan calls off Halloween, Valentine's Day
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School district in Michigan calls off Halloween, Valentine's Day

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A jack-o'-lanterns is lit during the last night of Hallowe'en celebrations at Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford Oct. 31, 2020 in Dearborn. The village was filled with 500 hand-carved pumpkins.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Principals at East Lansing's elementary schools are canceling Halloween and Valentine's Day celebrations over equity and inclusion concerns raised by parents.

East Lansing Public Schools elementary principals sent a joint letter to families Wednesday announcing there would no longer be Halloween or Valentine's Day celebrations in the classroom due to potential distractions and an increasing number of uncomfortable families.

"Each year, along with the fun of Halloween parties and parades, we also have students whose families do not celebrate or feel comfortable with their children participating in Halloween festivities," the elementary principals wrote. "We have young children who become overwhelmed and sometimes frightened of the costumes and others who come to school with no costume at all."

In recent years, some families have kept their children home from school or picked them up early on Halloween, according to the letter. The costumes, parades and parties can also make it difficult for children to concentrate and for teachers to teach, the principals wrote.

Valentine's Day brings its own set of "unintended consequences," the principals wrote. Some students bring valentines to exchange at school while others do not, leading to "drama and teasing" in upper elementary classrooms.

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Meanwhile, some families and students "do not feel comfortable with the idea of boys and girls exchanging valentines or participating in a celebration that focuses on 'love,' " the principals wrote.

"While this may be a disappointment and/or an adjustment for some of our students/families at first, we promise to continue to offer alternative days throughout the school year that are full of fun and learning, for everyone," the elementary principals wrote.

Parents took to social media to mourn the past.

"Some day when the world is gray and beige and there is no joy to be had anywhere... people will look back in envy of the times when children could be kids and people were allowed grace and forgiveness," one parent wrote.

"Robbing childhood memories they should have, as well as the parents should have!! I am so glad I had those memories with my kids," another parent commented. "People are over thinking things and ruining good times."

In terms of costumes being too scary or too expensive, one commenter suggested the schools start a donation of old costumes or to require students wear costumes that are based on book characters.

"The kids have been through so much these past few years. Change the way it is celebrated vs taking it away," the commenter continued. "I understand some folks don't celebrate these events and respect that 100% but there are ways include a fun time for all."

Or, as one one commenter suggested, keep it simple: if you don't like it, don't participate.

"So those who don't want to participate don't, it's simple. Keep your child home that day or pick them up early but why does everyone else have to be punished to accommodate your fears? Parents these days are So ridiculous!!"


Contact Mark Johnson at 517-377-1026 or at Follow him on Twitter at @ByMarkJohnson.

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