Fairfax County recognizes additional religious days in academic calendar


FALLS CHURCH, Va. (WDVM) — The Fairfax County School Board has voted for a new school calendar that recognizes cultural observances and additional religious holidays, but some interfaith community members are not happy with the vote.

According to school officials, the new calendar is designed to recognize, respect, and honor cultural observances within the county.

Dr. Ricardy Anderson, Fairfax County School Board Member said, “Now the opportunity has been expanded for students of over 15 religious areas to be able to participate in their religious observances, cultural observances without any penalty, without the need to feel that they need to make a decision.”

The religious and cultural observances now recognized include:

  • Eid al-Adha
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Yom Kippur
  • Día de los Muertos
  • Diwali, Bodhi Day
  • Three Kings Day/Epiphany
  • Orthodox Christmas
  • Orthodox Epiphany
  • Lunar New Year
  • Ramadan
  • Good Friday
  • Theravada
  • Orthodox Good Friday/Last Night of Passover
  • Eid al-Fitr

“It is much greater inclusivity than we’ve had in years past. It is much greater inclusivity that I believe we would have with just the four holidays that were being advocated for,” said Anderson.

Some interfaith community members are disappointed the vote did not include closures on holidays for the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh community in their months-long campaign.

Guila Franklin-Siegel, associate director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said,
“The impacted communities are feeling pained and upset, and frustrated, but also resolved because we know this fight is far from over and we will not stop advocating.”

School officials said they’re aware of the deep disappointment of those who had significant advocacy on this matter; however, this is just the beginning and more work is to be done. School leaders say the calendar structure is similar to past school years and spreads holidays and teacher workdays evenly throughout the calendar year. The calendar sets the first day of school as Monday, August 23, 2021, and the last day as Friday, June 10, 2022.

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