Next year none of the school holidays in Montgomery County will refer to religious holidays. Yesterday the school board voted on the Calendar for 2015-16. All the holidays around Christmas time will be called Winter Break and all of the holidays around Easter will be called Spring Break. Fairfax County has followed this practice for many years.
In the current school year calendar Montgomery County lists December 24 and 25 as Holidays-Christmas. December 26, 29, 30, and 31 are called Winter Break. April 3 is listed as Good Friday and April 6 is listed as Easter Monday. The period between April 7-10 is called Spring Break.
Sine the 1970s, Montgomery County Public Schools have closed for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Washington Post reports. Next year those two Jewish holidays will be simply listed as days when there is “no school for students.”
The Post summarizes the decision:
Board members said Tuesday that the new calendar will reflect days the state requires the system to be closed and that it will close on other days that have shown a high level of student and staff absenteeism. Though those days happen to coincide with major Christian and Jewish holidays, board members made clear that the days off are not meant to observe those religious holidays, which they say is not legally permitted.
The Post reports that the decision “followed a request from Muslim community leaders to give equal billing to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha.”
Several board members pledged to produce a clearer standard for the kind of operational impacts that might lead to further consideration of closing schools on a Muslim holiday in the future. The calendar change Tuesday affects only the next school year.