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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSIMMONDS' MEMORIAL DAY DECISION TAKES FLAK

SIMMONDS' MEMORIAL DAY DECISION TAKES FLAK

Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds has found herself between a rock and a hard place on the issue of school make-up days this academic year. The law requires 180 days of instruction, but because of physical plant conditions, hurricanes and other problems, the requirement will not be met unless classes are held on days not originally planned as school days.
With only a few holidays remaining between now and June, a task force of education officials and representatives of teachers and other professionals chose Memorial Day as a make-up day.
The choice has stirred resentment, with veterans and their supporters taking it as a sign of disrespect.
At a weekend meeting, Simmonds tried to smooth the situation with a detailed explanation of how the task force arrived at its decision. "The decision was made after a review of the school calendar and we determined that there were few holidays to choose from," she said.
She added, "When we realized it was not sitting well with the veterans, we asked teachers to tailor their lesson plans for that day to the significance of Memorial Day and those who have served in the armed forces."
Although Simmonds said the need for school make-up days is no indication of disrespect, Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen promised action to force a reversal of the task force decision.
"I would suggest that Commissioner Simmonds take responsibility for this decision and reverse the decision," Hansen said, adding that only the governor can overrule the commissioner.
If the decision is not reversed, the senator said, she will "lead the fight to boycott every school in session that day."
If the sentiment of the veterans attending the Sunday meeting is any indication, Hansen’s position reflects their own.
V.I. Veterans Affairs Office director Gregory Francis said the community feedback also appears to favor keeping Memorial Day as a holiday for everyone. "I sincerely believe that the decision must be reconsidered and an alternate day be chosen as a make-up day," he said. "This is not sitting well with veterans on all three islands."
There was no indication Monday as to whether Simmonds was reviewing the decision further.

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Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds has found herself between a rock and a hard place on the issue of school make-up days this academic year. The law requires 180 days of instruction, but because of physical plant conditions, hurricanes and other problems, the requirement will not be met unless classes are held on days not originally planned as school days.
With only a few holidays remaining between now and June, a task force of education officials and representatives of teachers and other professionals chose Memorial Day as a make-up day.
The choice has stirred resentment, with veterans and their supporters taking it as a sign of disrespect.
At a weekend meeting, Simmonds tried to smooth the situation with a detailed explanation of how the task force arrived at its decision. "The decision was made after a review of the school calendar and we determined that there were few holidays to choose from," she said.
She added, "When we realized it was not sitting well with the veterans, we asked teachers to tailor their lesson plans for that day to the significance of Memorial Day and those who have served in the armed forces."
Although Simmonds said the need for school make-up days is no indication of disrespect, Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen promised action to force a reversal of the task force decision.
"I would suggest that Commissioner Simmonds take responsibility for this decision and reverse the decision," Hansen said, adding that only the governor can overrule the commissioner.
If the decision is not reversed, the senator said, she will "lead the fight to boycott every school in session that day."
If the sentiment of the veterans attending the Sunday meeting is any indication, Hansen’s position reflects their own.
V.I. Veterans Affairs Office director Gregory Francis said the community feedback also appears to favor keeping Memorial Day as a holiday for everyone. "I sincerely believe that the decision must be reconsidered and an alternate day be chosen as a make-up day," he said. "This is not sitting well with veterans on all three islands."
There was no indication Monday as to whether Simmonds was reviewing the decision further.