Did This NJ School District Just Cancel Halloween?

by Staff
NJ Halloween

A New Jersey school district is facing harsh criticism after its Superintendent announced that all Halloween activities would be barred during school hours. That means no scares and absolutely no costumes.

Earlier this month, a letter was sent to families by Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, who serves as the Superintendent of Schools for the South Orange and Maplewood School District (SOMSD), informing them of the decision.

The letter read as follows:

“Each year, questions arise from families, students, and staff about what SOMSD schools will be doing regarding Halloween. Is promoting school-sponsored Halloween activities creating indirect and unintentional financial hardships for students and families?” he wrote. “Do school-sponsored Halloween activities violate the dignity of some of our students and families, either culturally or religiously? Does the promotion of school-sponsored Halloween activities create tensions with the equity and access values of SOMSD?”

The idea is that by switching from a “Halloween Celebration” to a “Fall Festival,” that more students would be able to participate. Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood ditched Halloween activities all the way back in 2015 due to an increasing number of absent students each year. Since switching to a fall festival, attendance has gone back up.

Halloween isn’t totally canceled at SOMSD schools, though. Celebrations are still permitted on school grounds so long as they take place after hours. But, costumes and other Halloween-related practices are absolutely barred in school during school hours. 

Governor Murphy had a less-than-kind take on the matter. Taking to X (formerly known as Twitter) to criticize the district. “Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween? Give me a break,” he wrote.

Superintendent Taylor is sticking to his guns—SOMSD will not be celebrating Halloween this year at any of their schools. But, what do you think? Does the decision deserve the outrage? Let us know in the comments below. 

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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