RI school district changes next year’s start date, will not have students return on Jewish holiday

East Bay

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) ─ After receiving backlash for deciding to start the school year on a Jewish holiday, the Bristol Warren Regional School District has reversed course.

Instead of starting the year on Sept. 7, which also marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Brice told parents Monday the first day of school has officially been moved to Sept. 8.

“Schools are places where all children and staff must feel supported and included,” he wrote in an email to parents. “These significant dates should be reviewed each year for their relevance and practical considerations. It is important that for this year Rosh Hashanah be observed just as Good Friday is observed.”

The decision comes a month after the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island asked the first day of school be changed, and after the Bristol Warren Regional School Committee rejected the request.

Brice said he issued a directive that the calendar be adjusted, adding that his original recommendation to start the school year on Sept. 8 should have been accepted by the school committee.

“This decision does not resolve the broader issue of why some religious holidays are observed while others are not,” he said. “It is my hope that next year consideration will be given to making sure that the calendar represents the practical and cultural observances for our community.”

During Monday night’s school committee meeting, Chairwoman Marjorie McBride said she will not dispute Brice’s directive.

Adam Greenman, president of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, said while Sept. 8 still falls during Rosh Hashanah, the new date is progress.

“I certainly recognize that this is a step in the right direction and am so grateful to the superintendent for issuing that directive and being on the right side of this,” Greenman said. “Do we wish it was pushed back for all of Rosh Hashanah? Absolutely, but I feel like this is a solution that’s not perfect but will help a good number of students and teachers in Bristol Warren.”

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