Is There School on Columbus Day? A Guide to Public School Holidays

If you’re looking for excuses to not to go to school, the best ones are usually the legitimate ones. The only thing better than that, however, are actual holidays! But which holidays can students take part in?

Before we get to the list of holidays, however, we need to ask…

How Many Days of School Can You Miss?

Public schools in the country generally have 180 days of school, while some private schools can have to as little as 170 days. In general, however, students are only allowed to miss 10% of the school year, which is around 17 to 18 days. All forms of absence, whether excused or unexcused, medical or otherwise, are counted towards the 10%.

Main Holidays

These main holidays are the country’s biggest celebrations, with many schools and even offices closing down during the duration of the holiday

Last Thursday and Weekend of November: Thanksgiving Holiday

A four-day holiday celebrated on the last week of November, Thanksgiving commemorates the first harvest of the Pilgrims on the new world. Thanksgiving itself is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November, although the Friday immediately following it is also a holiday, as well

Usually celebrated during the 4th Thursday of November, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is usually a holiday too.

December 23 to January 1: Christmas Break

Christmas holiday
Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

December 23, Christmas Eve, and the week succeeding it, are generally considered to be Christmas Break for many schools, with classes only resuming after January 1, New Year’s Day (which is also a holiday).

Fall Break

Although not taken in all parts of the country, Fall Break is a one to two-week break that’s taken either in September (for schools that started early in mid-August) or October (for schools that started in September).

End of March/Beginning of April: Spring Break

A week of holidays usually taken at the end of March or the beginning of April.

May to August, or June to September: Summer Break

A 10-12 week holiday in between grade levels, summer break starts differently in different parts of the country and depending on the school. A little tip: depending on what time your high school starts, it’s best to readjust your body clock after summer vacation just so you won’t have trouble getting up at the beginning of the school year.

Federal Holidays

January 21:  Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist who lobbied for the equal treatment and representation under the law of all Americans, regardless of race, creed, color, and social status. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or MLK Day, is celebrated every January 21.

Is There School on Martin Luther King Day?

No, schools are generally encouraged to give their students the day off so that they can take part in civil movements that celebrate the life and work of Dr. King.

February: Presidents’ Day

President’s Day, also known as Washington’s Birthday, commemorates the birthday of American founding father and the first president of the republic, George Washington. Officially born in February 22, 1732, President’s Day can fall anywhere between February 15 and 21, depending on the weekends.

Is There School on President’s Day?

It depends on the school district and the state, with some states and districts keeping schools open, while some will take the entire week off as a ‘mid-winter’ break.

April 16 (for Washington D.C. only, Other States Dates May Vary) Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day refers to the celebration of the emancipation of slaves during the American Civil War. In Washington D.C., it’s celebrated on April 16, which was when Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, freeing 3,100 slaves in Washington D.C., a full 9 months prior to the Emancipation Proclamation.

Is There School on Emancipation Day

School schedules may vary between states, but generally, most schools will give their students the day off.

Last Monday of May: Memorial Day

Memorial Day, also known as Decoration Day, is a Federal holiday that commemorates the service of all past and present uniformed personnel in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day is usually considered to be the first day of Summer.

Is There School on Memorial Day?

No, there is no school on Memorial Day

July 4: Independence Day

Independence day
Photo by Wilson Hobbs on Unsplash

The American day of independence, the 4th of July is the country’s biggest, and probably most important, holiday. It celebrates the victory of the United States over England in 1776.

Is There School on Independence Day?

No, there is no school on Independence Day, as it is set in the middle of summer vacation.

First Monday of September: Labor Day

A holiday that celebrates the efforts and service of American laborers, Labor Day is considered to be the first day of Autumn, and is thus the unofficial “end” of summer.

Is There School on Labor Day?

No, there is no school on Labor Day, with many schools choosing to start their school year after Labor Day.

October 12 (or the second Monday of the month): Columbus Day

Columbus Day celebrates and commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World, thus beginning European colonization of the Americas.

Is There School on Columbus Day?

It depends on the state; many states choose to celebrate Columbus Day with parades and day-offs in work and school, while some states do not celebrate it at all.

November 11: Veteran’s Day

Also known as Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day is a Federal holiday that commemorates and honors all military veterans in the United States Armed Forces. It also commemorates the end of the First World War.

Is There School on Veteran’s Day?

No, there is no school on Veteran’s Day.

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