Rosh Hashanah pushes back first day of school

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |  Miss Gammon at Greenport Elementary School welcomes her class to kindergarten Wednesday morning.
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The first day of school at Greenport Elementary School and most other North Fork schools will be later than usual this year.

The first day of school is rapidly approaching, but the timing of the Jewish New Year means most districts will have a later start date this year.

For most students in the area, the first day of the school year traditionally falls on the Wednesday following Labor Day — this year, that’s Sept. 4. But because Rosh Hashanah begins that evening, most schools have pushed their start dates to Monday, Sept. 9.

Students in the Mattituck-Cutchogue, New Suffolk, Southold and Greenport school districts will all start school Sept. 9, which is in keeping with the majority of public schools on Long Island. The exception is Oysterponds Elementary School, which has a start date of Sept. 4.

“Traditionally, I don’t think the Oysterponds School District has included the Rosh Hashanah holiday in their schedule,” said Oysterponds superintendent Dick Malone.

Our Lady of Mercy Regional School in Cutchogue is also starting Sept. 4.

Since it’s not a federal holiday, public schools on Long Island are not required to observe Rosh Hashanah.

“Starting earlier gives us a longer break at Christmastime. We have a full two weeks when we’re closed,” Mr. Malone said.

Southold superintendent David Gamberg said factors besides Rosh Hashanah, like superintendents’ conference days scheduled for Sept. 3 and 4, played a role in determining the first day of school.

But Mr. Gamberg said the primary reason Southold students have a later start date this year, is that New York state testing for 2014 will extend into late June.

“That has caused many districts to readjust their calendars — to start school later and finish school later,” he said.

Students at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead have the latest start date, with Tuesday, Sept. 10 as the first full day of classes. That’s because seniors have orientation Thursday, Sept. 5 and junior high students have orientation Friday, Sept. 6. Grades 7, 8, 9, and 11 have a half-day of school Sept. 9.

“The rationale for that is that the Riverhead Public School District, Middle Country Public School District and Hampton Bays Public School District were not providing busing until the ninth,” said Mercy principal Carl Semmler.

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