By CBSBoston.com Staff

MELROSE (CBS) – Public schools in Melrose are working to “deemphasize” Halloween activities in the classroom. Instead, the district said it seeks hold fall activities to ensure that “all students and staff feel safe, included and represented.”

Superintendent of Schools Julie Kukenberger said in letter to elementary school parents that over the last several years the district has “worked to deemphasize Halloween and shift our focus toward community building through fall celebrations.”

Kukenberger said several schools have planned PTO-sponsored fall festivals and events outside of school hours. During school hours, students have been participating in fall-themed activities and crafts.

“In Melrose, we pride ourselves on being ‘One community, open to all.’ For this to be true, we must live this mantra in all that we do,” Kukenberger wrote. “This includes in-school celebrations. I understand too that consistency from school to school is also essential. To better achieve this, I am working in collaboration with our elementary principals to map out, month by month, the traditions and events that have occurred in our schools. Together we will create guidelines that are safe, inclusive, and equitable to be implemented with consistency.”

Over 1,000 people have signed an online petition urging Melrose schools to reconsider the decision.

Carolyn Finocchiaro, the organizer of the petition said “A day that is merely about costumes and fun has turned political.”

Finocchiaro got the letter last week, but she said the communication wasn’t clear.

“The big term is ‘inclusivity.’ I guess some kids were feeling left out of group costume ideas or maybe they didn’t have a costume. Things about religion have come up. But Halloween is such a benign, non-religious holiday that it doesn’t make much sense to me or many people,” Finocchiaro said. “Clearly the majority of Melrose is speaking up against it.”

“We’re just confused and also coming back off of two years of a pandemic, you’d think that this would be the worst time to do this to a group of kids,” she added.

CBSBoston.com Staff