As Montgomery County’s school board came under fire for its recent decision to strike labels for Christmas and other religious holidays from its published school calendar, many have asked questions about how other local school systems handle days off.
Many Northern Virginia school systems don’t mention religious holidays on their calendars, while across the river in Maryland, many school systems do.
The debate over the place of religious holidays on the school calendar followed requests from Muslim leaders in Montgomery to give the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha the same prominence on next year’s district calendar as the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
Muslim leaders called the request symbolic but important. In other years, they had asked that Montgomery schools be closed on at least one of the major Muslim holidays.
The school board decided to strip away references to all religious holidays, saying the change would reflect that days off can only be given because of such factors as state law or expectations of high absenteeism, not to honor religious occasions.
Here’s a look at local school calendars:
The online public school calendar does not include religious holiday names. Schools are not closed on Jewish or Muslim holidays, officials said.
Click here for the DCPS calendar.
State law designates public school holidays on:
●Thanksgiving Day and the day after
●Christmas Eve and from then through Jan. 1
●Martin Luther King Jr. Day
●The Friday before Easter and from then through the Monday after Easter
●Primary and general election days (with possible exceptions)
Anne Arundel County
Religious holidays are listed on the calendar, including Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Schools are closed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and no activities are permitted after sundown on the preceding evening, officials said. In keeping with state law, schools are closed on Christmas, Christmas Eve, Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Click here for Anne Arundel’s calendar.
Religious holidays are named on the calendar, and schools are closed on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah; they are not closed on Muslim holidays. As required under Maryland law, they are also closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Click here for Howard’s calendar calendar.
Montgomery’s calendar for next year, 2015-16, will not include names of religious holidays, after the school board’s decision last month. Montgomery closes schools on the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, but not on Muslim holidays. They also are closed, in keeping with Maryland law, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Click here for this year’s Montgomery calendar.
Click here for the 2015-16 calendar reflecting the changes.
Prince George’s County
The calendar for 2014-15 mentions Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover and the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. The school system’s draft 2015-16 school calendar also includes a notation of the Hindu holiday of Diwali, officials said.
Schools close on one of the Jewish holidays but not on Muslim holidays. They also are closed, as all Maryland schools are by law, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Click here for the Prince George’s calendar.
Virginia education officials say there is nothing in the state code directing school divisions to close on any of the commonwealth’s legal holidays. The matter of when school is in session is a local decision, as is how a break is referred to on a school calendar.
Alexandria does not list religious holidays on its school calendar. Schools are not closed on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur or Muslim holidays. Spring break includes Good Friday and winter break includes the Christmas holidays.
Click here for Alexandria’s calendar.
The school system has not mentioned Christmas or Easter by name on its calendar in many years. Arlington schools do not close on Jewish or Muslim holidays. They are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which are part of winter break. Good Friday usually falls within spring break, so there is no school for students, officials said.
Click here for Arlington’s calendar.
Virginia’s largest school system does not mention religious holidays by name on its calendar. Fairfax says it made a change from Easter holiday to spring vacation in 1966. Christmas holiday changed to winter holiday in 1975.
Fairfax does not close schools on Jewish or Muslim holidays. Its winter break includes the Christmas holidays and its spring break includes Good Friday. This school year, its spring break includes Easter Monday as a student holiday.
Click here for Fairfax’s calendar.
Loudoun does not cite religious holidays by name; it stopped doing so years ago. As part of winter or spring break, schools are closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday. They are not closed on Jewish or Muslim holidays, but sports schedules are adjusted for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.
Click here for Loudoun’s calendar.
Prince William County
Prince William does not list religious holidays on its school division calendar. Schools are closed for a winter break that includes the Christmas holidays. Good Friday falls within spring break. Schools are not closed on Jewish or Muslim holidays.
Click here for Prince William’s calendar.
Note: Some school systems keep a separate calendar that includes many religious occasions, and educators often consult that document as they plan for tests and other activities.