NJ district ends Halloween activities during school hours to be 'inclusive of all families'

A New Jersey school district has banned costumes and Halloween-related events during school hours to avoid isolating students with cultural or religious reservations or financial limitations.

"Each year, questions arise from families, students, and staff about what SOMSD schools will be doing regarding Halloween. We believe it is important, moving forward, that we implement a consistent approach that is respectful and inclusive of all families," the South Orange & Maplewood School District said in a statement sent to parents.

In the statement, the school system announced that they "will not have any Halloween-themed events at any SOSMD schools during school hours."

In a statement sent to parents, the school district said the decision was made as part of an attempt to create "a consistent approach that is respectful and inclusive of all families."

Officials said they were concerned that school-sponsored Halloween activities might violate the cultural or religious dignity of some students or create financial hardships for some students and their families.

Students in the school district will also be banned from wearing costumes during school hours at the schools, although Halloween-themed events can be held after school hours. 

"I know this may make some uncomfortable and elicit some challenges across our community," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ronald Taylor said in the statement. "However, in the end, I feel these recommendations align with SOMSD’s commitment to building equity, fostering inclusion, and building a sense of belonging throughout our schools."

The news received criticism not just from parents, but even from the state's highest office.

"Seriously? We can't let kids celebrate Halloween?" New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted. "Give me a break."