Last year, the Board of Education voted to wipe off all religious references from the official school calendar. The decision was made in response to the popular appeal for the calendar to recognize and mention Muslim holidays. The demand for recognition significantly increased last year when Yom Kippur and Eid fell on the same day, yet only Yom Kippur was referenced on the calendar.
Another religion-based, controversial proposal is being pushed on to the table again this school year- Should MCPS close for Muslim holidays such as Eid?
This has been a hotly-debated topic for many months, and the spotlight has been shining brighter on this issue during the past few weeks than ever before. MCPS received over 1300 comments regarding their calendar policy, one that shocked many members of the community. Maryam Iftikhar, a Muslim student, says that she is “very glad that people are paying more attention to [this topic] now…[Muslim students] should be given adequate time to make up [their] work.” Many other Muslim students share Maryam’s thoughts, and most justifiably complain about the work they have to make up after celebrating Eid. “It’s almost like a punishment for us,” adds Iftikhar.
However, opponents of the potential policy argue that there are far more important issues to discuss than the closure of school on Muslim Eid holidays. Furthermore, the county has to consider absenteeism. According to several county officials, including Public Information Director Dana Tofig, the county’s absence rate does not increase or decrease on Eid more than it would on any other day. Therefore, there is no substantial reason to close school on that particular day. The county is closed on Jewish holidays, like Yom Kippur, because there’s a significantly large Jewish population residing in the county, and in turn, there would be a large number of students absent on those holidays.
For now, the Board is still trying to strategize and come up with a fair plan. If you feel strongly about the calendar policy, please send your comments to MCPS.
Article by MoCo Student Community Writer Inuri Abeysekara of Sherwood High School