NEW YORK — New York City public schools removed Columbus Day from its calendar of days off for students in the next academic year and replaced it with “Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day,” according to a release from the Department of Education on Tuesday.
Students will not have class on Oct. 11, but instead of observing Columbus Day, it will be in observance of Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day.
A spokesperson for the DOE told PIX11 News in an emailed statement that school administrators sought to be inclusive in observing the often polarizing federal holiday.
“Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day will celebrate the contributions and legacies of Italian Americans and recognize that Native people are the first inhabitants of the land that became our country. By including these holidays on our calendar we are honoring the past, present, and future contributions of Indigenous communities and Italian Americans,” the spokesperson said.
Indigenous Peoples Day is observed instead of Columbus Day in a number of states and dozens of U.S. cities. It’s usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal holiday.
Columbus Day commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492.
The holiday has drawn criticism from indigenous peoples and their allies as a celebration of an event that brought colonization to the Americas and spawned several atrocities.
Many Italian Americans, however, view the holiday as a celebration of their heritage.
In addition, students will not have class on June 20, 2022 in observance of Juneteenth. Juneteenth lands on a Sunday next year, so schools would observe the holiday the following Monday, June 20, 2022.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.