Officials push for NYC students to get second day off for an election

New York City's primary day is Tuesday, and some local education officials, are calling for it to become an official day off for students. NY1's Natalie Duddridge filed the following report.

School has only just begun, but there are already discussions about a day off.

Michael Reilly, the president of the Staten Island community education council, wants Primary Day to be considered a non-attendance day for public school students, given that schools such as P.S. 55 serve as polling sites.

"The reason this is a concern is that when the polls are open, we actually lose cafeteria space, gym space," said Reilly, the president of Community Education Council 31. "So out of out the New York City schools, 692 of them will be hosting polling sites."

By law, the city education department already gives students a break on the day of the general election, such as the upcoming one Nov. 7. But that doesn't apply to the primaries, one of which will be Tuesday.

That is a law that board of elections officials say they have tried to amend for a while.

"We're concerned about the voters' ability to freely access a poll site," said Michael Ryan, the executive director of the city board of elections. "But, of course, we're aware there are security concerns in the schools. We're also aware that it puts a strain on the school's ability to deliver services to the children."

Approving it would not mean an extra day off for students. Already built into the public school calendar, teachers receive two professional development days per year. One falls on the general election day, and the other day is voted on by each school.

"So instead of having to vote on it, it would be built into the system already as Primary Day," said Reilly.

But some parents say they don't mind having their kids in school during Primary Day, and that it can even serve as a learning experience.

"It doesn't bother me, as long as the curriculum is still holding up," one parent said. "It doesn't bother me as long, as they're still able to learn and not be distracted."

"If possible, I think they should go to school that day," another parent said. "I feel it's enough to have just a one day off for the general election."

NY1 reached out to city education department officials, who said that, for now, schools will stay open Primary Day.

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