District moves away from including Good Friday in Spring Break

For the first time, Brevard Public Schools Spring Break will not encompass Good Friday, which in the Christian Church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and is traditionally a day of fasting and penance. This year, Good Friday falls on March 30 and Spring Break begins on April 2. Good Friday is observed two days before Easter Sunday, which marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Neighboring districts moved away from having Spring Break align with Easter years ago in part because the holiday does not always fall on the same day of the year. Easter usually is celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the March equinox, meaning it can fall on various Sundays between March 22 and April 25. When it falls toward the end of that window, it can interfere with standardized testing. In addition, pushing Spring Break to the later dates makes it more difficult for students to stay focused as the end of the school year approaches. 

Junior Kyle Caudill appeared surprised by the change in BPS scheduling.

“I think that’s unfortunate actually,” he said. “I didn’t know that, [but] I think that a lot of people will probably be missing school anyway because that they’re going be out of town for Easter with family and stuff like that.”

The change also aligns the treatment of Good Friday with that of holy days celebrated by other religions. According to school board policy, student absences for religious purposes are excused absences and do not prohibit students from receiving perfect attendance recognition. If requested in writing prior to the religious holiday, these absences should not be counted toward the nine-days-in-a-semester rule.

“I know I get excused absences when I miss for holidays, but I do have to usually bring in a note from my parents saying I was at temple all day,” junior Marcie Goldfarb said. “I feel like it’s kind of like with the eclipse, people took advantage of the fact that the eclipse was an excused absence, and I feel like with the Good Friday [calendar change], no one gets an excused absence they might take an advantage of.” 

Sophomore Derrik Wilborne said he views the lack of a day off to be more of a negative than a positive for those who celebrate the religious aspect of the holiday.

“It kind of [stinks]. Mostly just because I got a day off out of it, and it also does kind of [stink] for people who are actually into it,” Wilborne said. “So I kind of think it’s a negative overall. [Stinks] for people who are into it, [stinks] for people who aren’t into it, because everyone doesn’t get a day off now.”

The school board’s 2018-19 calendar shows Spring Break scheduled for March 15-22 while Easter will occur on April 21. Nearly all colleges and universities schedule their Spring Breaks during the first two weeks of March so aligning the public school schedule with those schools could provide additional dual-enrollment opportunities. For instance, Palm Bay High School recently entered into a dual-enrollment program with the Florida Institute of Technology.

Roar staff report