NEW YORK - There was outrage after the New York City Department of Education removed Columbus Day from the new school calendar. It will now be observed as Italian Heritage/Indigenous Peoples Day and even that day had Italian Heritage added after the initial release.
The department released its 2021–2022 school calendar on Tuesday morning.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he nor the Schools Chancellor knew about the renaming of Columbus Day in the 2021-2020 NYC schools calendar.
"I think this process wasn't handled, right. I certainly didn't hear about the change nor did the Chancellor," said de Blasio on Wednesday morning.
Italian-Americans reacted immediately to the lack of Columbus Day on the calendar.
"For millions of Italians across the country and world, it will always be Columbus Day. To us, it's our day. It's in our minds and in our hearts," actor Chazz Palminteri told the New York Post.
Get breaking news alerts in the free FOX5NY News app!
Angelo Vivolo, the president of the Columbus Heritage Coalition said, "By canceling the celebration of one culture and substituting another, the mayor's appointees have pitted group against group. They seek to spread the virus of hatred to destroy understanding and unity."
FOX 5 NY reached out to the New York City Department of Education, asking what is the process when a change like this is made, who is notified and who approves the change, but were given a statement.
"Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day will celebrate the contributions and legacies of Italian Americans and recognize that Native people are the first inhabitants of the land that became our country. By including these holidays on our calendar we are honoring the past, present, and future contributions of Indigenous communities and Italian Americans." Said a DOE spokesperson.
The annual Columbus Day Parade usually draws around a million spectators and 35,000 marches along Manhattan's Fifth Avene. A statue of Christopher Columbus sits in Columbus Circle at the south end of Central Park.
"I support an Indigenous peoples' holiday," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing Wednesday. "But I also support Columbus Day. You can have an Indigenous peoples' day without intruding on Columbus Day, and that is the spirit of New York."
Cuomo, a Democrat and an Italian American, said Columbus Day will remain a state holiday.
Other changes to the calendar include the end to snow days. If the weather is bad, New York City students will have to shift to remote learning. Also, on Nov. 2, Election Day there will be changes. Students will be remote and teachers will have a development day but that could change depending on the state's Education Department.
And Juneteenth will be observed with a day off for students on June 20. It is now a state holiday in New York.
"Over the years, the DOE introduced additional holiday observances as part of the school calendar, and has contractual obligations which limit the number of possible school days," the department said in a statement. "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."
By state law, students must attend class 180 out of 365 days. Because of the pandemic, this year students already missed out on snow days and continued learning virtually.