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NYC Public Schools Scrap Columbus Day, Snow Days

A bus driver completes his route in Brooklyn, New York, December 2, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

New York City public schools will replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day and will cut out snow days through the use of remote learning beginning next year, the city’s department of education announced Tuesday.

NYC Department of Education spokesman Nathaniel Styer reportedly told Fox News that the shift toward recognizing Indigenous People’s Day was done to place “a spotlight on the history, cultures, and traditions of Indigenous people.”

“Indigenous People’s Day recognizes that Native people are the first inhabitants of the land that became our country,” Styer said. “Recognizing it on the calendar puts a spotlight on the history, cultures, and traditions of Indigenous people and we look forward to honoring this day next school year.”

The holiday will replace Columbus Day, which is typically observed on the second Monday in October. The move by the largest school district in the U.S. follows in the steps of a number of schools nationwide that have already made the swap.

Protestors have torn down and vandalized statues of Christopher Columbus, an Italian Renaissance-era explorer often credited with being the first European to discover the Americas. A growing number of critics have called for Columbus Day to be eliminated or renamed Indigenous Peoples’ Day, upset at the celebration of what they see as Columbus’s subjugation and mistreatment of the New World’s native population.

The change was first seen in the New York City schools 2021-2022 school year calendar, which was released Tuesday.

Beginning next year, schools will also close in observance of Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the day in 1865 when slavery definitively ended in the U.S. NYC schools will close on June 20, 2022 for the holiday, the calendar shows, as the date the holiday is typically celebrated, June 19, will fall on a Sunday.

The calendar debut also featured the announcement that the city’s department of education is getting rid of “snow days” moving forward. Instead, students will be expected to attend school remotely on days when school buildings are closed due to inclement weather.

“The DOE will shift all students to remote instruction in lieu of cancelling schools due to severe weather conditions,” the department said in a statement to CNN.

The schools will also not receive a day off for Election Day and will be expected to log on for “fully remote, asynchronous” instruction.

“The pandemic has also created the ability to switch seamlessly to remote learning, and DOE central and schools have distributed hundreds of thousands of devices to ensure that learning can continue remotely during school closures,” the DOE told CNN.

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