Prince William County school officials recently floated an alternate calendar that adds Jewish, Hindu and Muslim holidays to the 2021-22 school year, but a public survey found many parents, students and staff would rather have a longer winter break.
School staff developed two calendar options for the school board to consider, one with traditional holidays and the other incorporating additional holidays that reflect the diversity of the community, school officials said in a news release.
The school calendar traditionally includes a winter break over Christmas and New Year's Day and a spring break near Easter. Other holidays off on the calendar include Labor Day, Veterans Day, Election Day, Thanksgiving break, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Inauguration Day, Washington's Birthday/President's Day and Memorial Day.
The newly-developed calendar would add the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah; the Jewish holy day Yom Kippur; Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, and the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.
To account for those days, school officials proposed removing days from winter break, as well as the Monday after spring break.
More than 13,000 responded to the school survey about the two proposed calendars. Of those, 79.7% were parents, 22.2% were staff members and 5% were students. The majority, 65%, said they prefer the traditional calendar.
Key themes in comments included:
- Desire for two-week Winter Break
- View that the new holidays are inclusive
- Concerns about how holidays are referenced
- Interest in possibility of year-round school
- Just under half of respondents indicated they would not change anything with either option.
- Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) indicated they would prefer to extend Winter Break in Option B, which would make the school year end later in June.
The school board is set to discuss and approve a 2021-22 calendar at its Nov. 4 meeting.