Massachusetts schools are due a few snow days. But more than likely the first day off this year for Braintree students will be because of democracy, not weather.
A scheduled half-day on Nov. 6 for a Braintree Public Schools professional development session is now a complete day off, a move aimed at improving election day safety and fostering a better environment for educating teachers.
"It's fair to say we have a fairly heated presidential election coming up, and we'll have a large turnout," Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said. "From a safety standpoint, we should consider not having school on election day."
The School Committee unanimously approved the change on Monday night, responding to Dr. Kurzberg's concerns, especially regarding traffic. All of Braintree's public schools are polling places on Tuesday, Nov. 6, except for the high school.
BHS will be used for the professional development day. Staff will focus on the new educator evaluation system, MCAS, Aspen training, making up for lost time for ELL teachers when BELD's communications went down earlier this month during a development day, and other tasks.
"We could really use a full day for professional development," the superintendent said. "It just seems like it's a win-win for everybody."
There is extra personnel at the schools during elections, Dr. Kurzberg said, but traffic alone could be a major problem because parking lots are normally at capacity during the school day with staff vehicles.
Some families will need to make adjustments, Dr. Kurzberg said. But since high school students will also have the day off, they could help take care of younger siblings in some instances. The day will be made up at the end of the year like a snow day, he added.
"Although school will be closed on Nov. 6, it will be a day of education," Mayor Joseph Sullivan said. "Democracy is a great thing. It is an educational tool for our country."