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  1. Gradebook

Pasco County students can get absences excused for Good Friday

The district will hold classes on the holiday for a second consecutive year.

Unlike their neighbors, Pasco County schools will hold classes on Good Friday.

District officials anticipate most students and staff, who just returned from spring break on Monday, to be there. But for those who wish to observe the religious holiday, superintendent Kurt Browning has a message.

That's just fine.

The school district's long-standing policy has been to grant students excused absences — that means no penalties for late assignments and such — for those who miss because of their religion.

A year ago, when the district opened on Good Friday for the first time in at least five years, that information wasn't clear to everyone. The district got blistered by church leaders and parishioners who could not condone the decision.

Absences soared.

Past coverage: Pasco County schools criticized for holding classes on Good Friday

This time around, Browning aimed to reassure people early on that all they have to do is send a note to school explaining that their child didn't attend because of the holiday. He delivered the news to every Catholic Church in the county weeks in advance, via letter.

He included some added welcome news for them: "The school calendar for the 2018-19 school year provides that students will be out of school on that day."

The approach appeared to be working: The district received almost no angry communications this time around.

The School Board had contemplated changing the current calendar, but decided against it because families and staff had already begun planning their scheduled by the time the issue arose last spring.

The district's general approach has been to set a calendar based on academic needs, such as completing the first semester before winter break. The schools would remain aware of religious holidays and excuse students who do not attend because of their observances.

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