A holiday lesson

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board January 11, 2012 06:24 pm

The Baker School District seems to have learned a lesson about having classes on legal holidays.

We understand why the school board decided, last April, to make Monday, Jan. 2 a regular school day even though, as a result of New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday, Jan. 1 was the legal holiday.

This is the district’s first school year with a four-day week. Having classes on one legal holiday gives the district a little more flexibility in meeting its required number of school days.

What officials perhaps didn’t fully account for, though, is the ubiquity of technology.

Most students did go to school on Jan. 2 — it was, after all, clearly shown as a regular class day on the schedule the board approved.

This of course made the schools stand out, as it were, among government entities.

Most public offices, and not a few private ones such as banks, were closed that day in observance of the legal holiday.

In this era ruled by the texting-enabled cell phone, it’s little surprise that the murmur of the high school’s unusual status quickly became a roar.

By the end of the day, about one-third of BHS students had gone home.

Fortunately this exodus is benign. Because a state law prohibits schools from compelling students to attend class on a legal holiday, the district won’t give any student an unexcused absence for Jan. 2.

We don’t blame the district for not announcing, before Christmas break started, that attendance Jan. 2 was, in effect, optional. School halls probably would have been far less crowded had the district done so.

But this merely emphasizes why it’s not practical to have class on a legal holiday.

Superintendent Walt Wegener said last week that, the next time a legal holiday falls on a Monday, he’ll recommend that classes be canceled.

Wise idea.