Optional school holidays are a terrific way to foster a stronger learning environment for students of faith. This policy ensures that students will never have to choose between their academic success and faith. It also alleviates educators’ stress by limiting the number of makeup tests and allowing them to plan for attendance concerns. This policy is simply a tool to increase scheduling considerations for students of faith.
What Is An Optional School Holiday?
An ‘optional school holiday’ is a term used to define a holiday that is optional and at the discretion of the school district for scheduling purposes.
It is not bound by legal mandate and does not have any involvement with the official process to determine the school calendar.
Eight holidays, including Eid ul-Fitr (Islam), Eid ul-Adha (Islam), Yom Kippur (Judaism), Rosh Hashanah (Judaism), Vaisakhi (Sikh), Diwali (Hindu), Immaculate Conception (Catholic), and All Saints Day (Christian) should be recognized as optional school holidays.
Teachers should not schedule graded assessments for the day of and the next day during these holidays. Additionally, the district should not organize field trips, school pictures, club competitions, or dances on these days.
Presenting a note from their parent or guardian should be a valid excuse for the faith holiday. Absences should be excused, and students should not be penalized.
How Is It Done?
Option A: The school board can propose this measure through a board resolution (sample language provided upon request)
Option B: The superintendent can send this as a directive to relevant administrators
Fairfax, Virginia, created optional school holidays for observances such as Eid ul-Adha, Rosh Hashanah, Día de Los Muertos, Diwali, Bodhi Day, and Three Kings Day.
The School District of Philadelphia recognized Eid al-Adha, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Lunar New Year, Good Friday, and Eid-al-Fitr as school holidays in the 2021-22 school year.