Columbus Day is a federal holiday that occurs every second Monday of October. For students and teachers, this holiday brings up an important question – is there school on Columbus Day? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide a detailed look at whether or not public schools, colleges, and universities have classes on this controversial holiday.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: most public K-12 schools do not hold classes on Columbus Day, while many colleges and universities remain open and hold classes as usual.

A Brief History of Columbus Day

Before delving into whether there is school on Columbus Day, it’s essential to understand the origins and significance of this holiday. Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October each year in the United States.

This day marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. It has been a federal holiday since 1937, but its observance and meaning have been a subject of controversy in recent years.

The Origins of Columbus Day

The idea of celebrating Columbus’s voyage to the Americas originated in the late 18th century. In 1792, on the 300th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival, New York City held the first official commemoration of the event.

However, it wasn’t until 1892, the 400th anniversary, that Columbus Day gained national recognition. Italian-American communities, seeking to celebrate their heritage and contributions to the United States, played a significant role in promoting Columbus Day as a national holiday.

Columbus Day Becomes a Federal Holiday

In 1934, under pressure from Italian-American advocacy groups, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day as a national holiday. It was initially celebrated on October 12th but was later moved to the second Monday in October to create a long weekend for workers.

This change aimed to encourage travel and stimulate the economy during a time of economic hardship, the Great Depression. Today, Columbus Day is recognized as a federal holiday, granting many workers a day off.

The Meaning and Controversy Surrounding Columbus Day

While Columbus Day has been celebrated for decades, its meaning and observance have become increasingly controversial. Critics argue that celebrating Columbus perpetuates a one-sided narrative that ignores the negative consequences of Columbus’s actions, such as the enslavement and mistreatment of indigenous populations.

Some cities and states have chosen to rename the holiday Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Day as a way to honor and recognize the Native American contributions and cultures.

Furthermore, there has been a growing movement to educate the public about the true history of Columbus and the impact of European colonization on indigenous communities. Many schools have incorporated lessons on indigenous history and culture, encouraging students to critically examine historical events and consider multiple perspectives.

It is important to note that the decision to have school on Columbus Day varies across different school districts and states. Some schools may choose to have a regular school day, while others may observe the holiday and grant students the day off.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual school district to determine whether there is school on Columbus Day.

For more information on the history and controversy surrounding Columbus Day, you can visit and

Do Public K-12 Schools Have Classes on Columbus Day?

Most Public Schools Are Closed on Columbus Day

When it comes to whether or not public K-12 schools have classes on Columbus Day, the general answer is that most schools are closed on this holiday. Columbus Day is a federal holiday in the United States, observed on the second Monday in October.

It was established to commemorate Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas in 1492. Many schools, both public and private, choose to recognize this holiday and give their students and staff the day off.

According to Philadelphia Magazine, the majority of public schools across the country do not hold classes on Columbus Day. This allows students and teachers to have a long weekend and enjoy a break from their regular school routine.

It also provides an opportunity for families to spend time together and engage in activities that honor the holiday or simply relax.

It’s important to note that school closures on Columbus Day may vary depending on the location. Some states and school districts may have different policies regarding this holiday, so it is always a good idea to check with your local school district or school calendar to confirm whether or not classes will be held on Columbus Day.

Exceptions Depend on State and District Policies

While most public schools do not have classes on Columbus Day, there are exceptions depending on state and district policies. Some states, such as Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont, Maine, New Mexico, parts of California (Los Angeles County), and South Dakota, do not recognize Columbus Day as a statewide holiday. In these states, schools may remain open on Columbus Day.

Additionally, some school districts in states that do observe Columbus Day as a holiday may choose to keep schools open for various reasons. These reasons could include making up for lost instructional time due to weather-related closures or other scheduling considerations.

If you’re unsure whether your local public school will be open on Columbus Day, it’s best to consult your school district’s website or contact your child’s school directly for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

What About Colleges and Universities?

Many Colleges and Universities Hold Classes on Columbus Day

When it comes to colleges and universities, the policies regarding Columbus Day can vary. While some higher education institutions choose to hold classes on this day, others may modify their schedules or observe it as a holiday.

It is important for students to check with their specific college or university to determine whether classes will be held on Columbus Day.

For those colleges and universities that do hold classes on Columbus Day, it is often viewed as just another day in the academic calendar. Professors may continue with their regular lecture schedules, and students are expected to attend as they would on any other day.

This approach reflects the commitment of these institutions to prioritize education and ensure that students have ample opportunities to engage in their studies.

Some Schools Close or Have Limited Operations

On the other hand, some colleges and universities choose to close their campuses or have limited operations on Columbus Day. This decision may be influenced by various factors such as the institution’s location, historical significance, and the desires of the student body and faculty.

For these institutions, Columbus Day may be seen as a time to reflect on the historical context and impact of Christopher Columbus’s voyages. It can also serve as an opportunity for students and faculty to engage in discussions and educational activities related to indigenous cultures and the complexities of colonization.

While these closures or limited operations can provide a break for students and faculty, it is important to note that there are still many other colleges and universities that remain open on Columbus Day.

This diversity of approaches reflects the diverse perspectives and priorities within higher education institutions across the country.

To stay informed about the specific policies of a college or university regarding Columbus Day, students and faculty should consult their institution’s academic calendar or official communications.

Other Things to Know About Columbus Day School Closures

Teacher Work Days

While Columbus Day is a federal holiday and many schools are closed, it’s important to note that some schools may still have teacher work days scheduled. Teacher work days are days when students do not attend school, but teachers still report to work for professional development, planning, and other administrative tasks.

These work days provide teachers with valuable time to collaborate with colleagues, attend workshops, and enhance their teaching skills. So, even if students have the day off, teachers may still be hard at work preparing for the upcoming weeks of instruction.

Makeup Days for Closures Earlier in the Year

In some cases, schools may use Columbus Day as a makeup day for closures that occurred earlier in the year. Inclement weather, power outages, or other unforeseen circumstances can sometimes force schools to close for a day or more.

To ensure that students meet the required number of instructional days, schools may choose to schedule makeup days on holidays like Columbus Day. This allows schools to make up for lost instructional time without extending the school year further into the summer.

It’s important for parents and students to stay informed about any potential changes to the school calendar. School websites and district newsletters are great resources for finding out about makeup days or any other adjustments to the school schedule.

Additionally, reaching out to your child’s teacher or school administration can provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding school closures and makeup days.

Remember, while some schools may have Columbus Day off, others may have alternative schedules in place. It’s always a good idea to check with your child’s school to confirm whether there will be classes or any other activities on Columbus Day.

How to Find Out if Your School Is Closed

Check Your School District’s Website

If you want to find out if your school is closed on Columbus Day, the first place you should check is your school district’s website. Most school districts have a dedicated section on their website that provides information about school closures.

Look for a tab or link that says “School Closures” or “Inclement Weather” and click on it. This will typically take you to a page that lists any upcoming school closures, including Columbus Day. If your school district’s website doesn’t have this information readily available, try searching for your district’s name along with the keywords “school closures” or “calendar” in a search engine.

This may lead you to a page where you can find the information you’re looking for.

Contact Your School

If you’re unable to find information about school closures on your district’s website, the next step is to contact your school directly. Reach out to the main office or administration and ask if there are any plans to close the school on Columbus Day.

They will be able to provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding school closures. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan in case your school is closed, so make sure to inquire about any alternative arrangements or assignments that may be given in the event of a closure.

Look for Announcements from Your College

If you’re attending college, finding out if your school is closed on Columbus Day may be a bit different. Colleges often have their own communication channels, such as email or online portals, to inform students about any changes in the schedule.

Keep an eye out for any announcements from your college’s administration regarding school closures. Additionally, colleges may also post updates on their social media accounts or on their official website.

Checking these sources regularly will ensure that you stay informed about any potential closures.


In summary, Columbus Day does not universally mean a day off school across the United States. Most public K-12 schools close in observance of the holiday, but many colleges and universities opt to remain open and hold classes.

The best way to find out if your school is taking the day off is to check your district, college, or university’s website and calendars. With some advanced planning, students and teachers can enjoy a well-deserved long weekend in October. Just remember to double check those schedules!

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