New APS calendar holidays

APS adds multiple previously not included holidays to the calendar

Have you noticed that APS has had a few more days off of school? It’s been nice, right? An extra few days to chill and catch up on schoolwork. This is because of the new APS holiday policy. APS has added selected Jewish, Muslim and Hindu holidays off for children to celebrate with their loved ones without the worry of missing school.

Discussion about this policy began in September 2020. In October, Human Resources presented information about the development process of the calendar and a draft calendar of the upcoming school year. In December, the superintendent scheduled the calendar for School Board action. 

Students are most affected by four major holidays off now: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali and Eid al-Fitr. While some do not participate in these holidays, they are very meaningful days to celebrate with friends and family for others.

“Hinduism to me is more about . . . how well you’re treating your life,” freshman Asha Limaye said. “If you are taking care of yourself and if you are caring for other people in need and if you’re just being a genuinely good human, then you will get good rewards for it, you’ll get a good afterlife.”

Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the New Year. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Judaism where people fast, pray and confess their sins. Diwali is the festival of light, a major festival celebrated by Hindus. Lastly, Eid is a worldwide holiday that marks the end of the fasting month (Ramadan).

“It was really hard when I had to go to school because I have to kind of abandon that part of my religion and not fast,” freshman Karin Anderson said. “Obviously I’m at school and doing work and it’s very difficult to do school if you haven’t eaten in 24 hours. But, being able to not have to worry about missing any schoolwork or not having to worry about having to catch up on [work and] missing a big part of your religion is super nice, and it’s definitely something that I think a lot of people appreciate because it’s such a big part of our religion that it’s really nice to not have to be stressed about school on this really important day.”  

Other counties, such as Fairfax and Prince William County have not implemented the same policies. However, they are considering the change to add the same four religious holidays, although it hasn’t been approved yet. Northern Virginia is a very widespread and diverse area with many different cultures and religions. The implementation of these policies raise the question: should other counties be doing the same thing? 

“I love the policy [because] it’s definitely very beneficial to me specifically,” Anderson said. “And I’d say it’s beneficial to people who have to go to services.”

 There are so many different religious holidays and celebrations. Holidays and festivals contribute a sense of belonging within communities and help keep tradition alive.

 “My religion is a huge part of my identity and who I am, because I feel like I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t a part of my religion,” junior Afrin Akhtar said. “And because I have an indication of who I am, around my head.”