FCPS votes not to add more days off for religious holidays next year

The+FCPS+School+Board+debates+topics+including+next+year%27s+schedule+at+its+March+18+meeting.

Courtesy: FCPS School Board

The FCPS School Board debates topics including next year’s schedule at its March 18 meeting.

Students will not have the day off for additional religious holidays next year, after the FCPS School Board voted March 18 on a schedule for next year. But there will be no tests or field trips on those religious holidays.

FCPS School Board had been debating the 2021-2022 school year calendar for religious holidays. They considered adding four new holidays to the schedule: Rosh Hashanah (September 7), Yom Kippur (September 16), Diwali (November 4), and Eid al Fitr (May 3).

Many people argued how to present the idea of the holidays without declaring it as a religious holiday.

It is illegal for the FCPS board to give students a holiday for religious reasons. If a substantial amount of kids do not attend class during those holidays then the board has a reason to give students a day off.

There was a delay on the calendar when Covid-19 struck and the calendar became a second priority. Some religious leaders want the board to move forward in making the proposed calendar a reality. Scott Brabrand, superintendent for FCPS said in the Washington Post, “Covid happened, that’s what happened, my time has been almost overwhelmingly spent on returning kids to school . . . and not the calendar.”

The board agreed on giving students two floating days where they could leave class for religious purposes. The Board are also permitted to give individual students time off for religious ceremonies.

Some board members were afraid that adding the holidays to the calendar would disrupt the regular school calendar and might prefer some religions over others.

Numerous organizations and individuals have spoken out encouraging the school board to add the additional holidays. Among those who signed a letter together were the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), Durga Temple of Virginia, Hindu American Foundation, McLean Islamic Center, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, Sikh Foundation of Virginia, The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.

The new calendar was intended to take into account instruction, student wellness, survey preferences, absenteeism data, and equity.