By MARIAM KHAN
After months of consideration, the Board of Education made the decision to add Eid and Diwali, two major religious holidays, to the district calendar.
Some Jericho students have struggled with having to attend school on these religious holidays. Freshman Ayesha A. said, “I am usually absent, and sometimes I miss my tests and important lectures.” Similarly, freshman Katelyn M. said, “I think that we should add these holidays because people can’t miss out on their religious holidays.”
This issue was addressed at recent Board of Education meetings. Parents, students, and community members had the chance to speak about their beliefs regarding the issue. Parent Shewar Khan was one of the many people who spoke. She said, “It’s really about promoting inclusion, to allow students that celebrate these holidays to do so without having to miss tests and make up school work. Also, by creating awareness around these holidays, we are helping to raise socially and culturally responsible kids across the board, which I believe is very important.” Ms. Khan also explained why she decided to speak at a Board of Education meeting. “It was for my kids. I thought this was a good teaching moment for them. I wanted them to know that their school district is supportive of diversity and truly listens when you have recommendations,” she said.
Jericho Superintendent Mr. Grishman shared his point of view on this discussion. He said, “The Board has reaffirmed that our school wants to maintain its philosophy of supporting our kids and our staff, but they’re dealing with the challenge of maintaining 186 days of school while adjusting the calendar.”
While some Jericho community members had been advocating for the addition of these holidays, others believed that school days shouldn’t be given up for extra holidays. Freshman Maggie L. said, “If we get more days off, we won’t have enough school days.” In regards to the effect this would have on the number of school days, Board Trustee William Ferro and Superintendent Grishman assured the audience at a February Board of Education meeting that reducing the number of school days is not an option. The addition of the new holidays would have to come at the loss of other days off or by lengthening the calendar. After a very engaged and sincere discussion of the issue, the Board made the decision to give all Jericho School District constituencies a chance to further discuss the issue before a final decision was made.
At the May 18th Board of Education meeting, the Board voted to make Diwali and Eid official school holidays starting with the 2018-2019 school year. According to Mr. Grishman as recorded in the Board minutes, “The impact is minimal to the school calendar when analyzing the next five years and we are able to add the holidays, while maintaining the school breaks that we currently have.”
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