Education Laws and Regulations

Statewide Legal Holidays; Accommodation for Religious Observances

To:Superintendents of Schools, Charter School Leaders, Other Interested Parties
From:Jeff Wulfson, Acting Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:December 6, 2017

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is providing this updated information to assist school officials in planning school calendars and in accommodating students and staff who are observing religious obligations:

  1. A list of Massachusetts legal holidays for school years 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020. Under state law (Mass. General Laws Chapter 4, section 7, cl. 18) all public offices, including public schools, must be closed on these statewide legal holidays.

    School Year
    School Year
    School Year
    Labor DayMon., Sept. 4Mon., Sept. 3Mon., Sept. 2
    Columbus DayMon., Oct. 9Mon., Oct. 8Mon., Oct. 14
    Veterans' DaySat., Nov. 11Sun., Nov. 11Mon., Nov. 11
    ThanksgivingThurs., Nov. 23Thurs., Nov. 22Thurs., Nov. 28
    Christmas DayMon., Dec. 25Tues., Dec. 25Wed., Dec. 25
    New Year's DayMon., Jan. 1Tues., Jan. 1Wed., Jan. 1
    Martin Luther King, Jr. DayMon., Jan. 15Mon., Jan. 21Mon., Jan. 20
    Presidents' DayMon., Feb. 19Mon., Feb. 18Mon., Feb. 17
    Patriots' DayMon., Apr. 16Mon., Apr. 15Mon., Apr. 20
    Memorial DayMon., May 28Mon., May 27Mon., May 25
    Independence DayWed., July 4Thurs., July 4Sat, July 4

    Please note:

    • Under state law, a legal holiday that falls on a Sunday is observed on the following Monday, and a legal holiday that falls on a Saturday is observed on Saturday.
    • Beyond statewide legal holidays, each school district and charter school determines its school vacations.

  2. A link to the Interfaith Calendar, which includes a list of primary religious holidays for many religious faiths, for the years 2017 through 2030. In addition, the New Jersey Board of Education has posted a list of major religious holidays in the 2017-2018 school year. These multi-faith calendars are helpful resources for planning school calendars, determining possible days of low attendance, and accommodating students and staff who observe religious holidays. Please note that Baha'i, Jewish, and Islamic holidays begin at sundown the previous day and end at sundown on the date listed. Also, some dates may be approximate due to the lunar calendar. For more information on religious holidays that members of your school community may observe, I encourage you to contact local clergy.

    State and federal laws require schools to make reasonable accommodation to the religious needs of students and employees in observance of holy days. Mass. General Laws Chapter 151B, section 4 (1A) addresses this issue with respect to employees. With respect to students, Mass. General Laws Chapter 151C, section 2B reads in relevant part as follows:

    Any student in an educational or vocational training institution…who is unable, because of his religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirement on a particular day shall be excused from any such examination or study or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement which he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day; provided, however, that such makeup examination or work shall not create an unreasonable burden upon such school. No fees of any kind shall be charged by the institution for making available to the said student such opportunity. No adverse or prejudicial effects shall result to any student because of his availing himself of the provisions of this section.

    Schools may meet their obligation to accommodate students by excusing individual absences for religious observance, or by adjusting the school calendar to provide a school year of at least 180 school days while taking into account possible days of low attendance due to religious holidays.

Please share this information with your school building administrators. We hope you will find it helpful.

Last Updated: December 12, 2017

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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