The School Board on Tuesday approved a calendar for the 2021-22 school year that adds three holy days and Election Day as student and staff holidays.
Starting next school year, schools will close on Sept. 16 for Yom Kippur, Nov. 2 for Election Day, Nov. 4 for Diwali, and May 3 for Eid-al-Fitr.
It is the first time specific religious holidays have been listed on Loudoun’s school calendar, but follows recent actions taken by other school divisions in the region. Election Day was designated as a state holiday starting this year.
Harris Mahedavi (Ashburn) made the motion to adopt the calendar, which was approved on a 7-2 vote. Denise Corbo (At Large) and Ian Serotkin (Blue Ridge) opposed the motion, noting there appeared to be no secular reason to support the additions and the action could violate the federal Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
Another option considered by the board would have added Rosh Hashanah as a holiday on Sept. 16. An alternative proposal was to add the additional days off, but to not identify them as being religious holidays.
School Division counsel Stephen Davita told the board that the law requires a secular reason to add the religious holidays, but it doesn’t have to be the only reason. He said avoiding absences would be one such a reason.
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Talent Development Scott Ziegler said there had been no recorded increase in absenteeism on those holidays, with the exception of Yom Kippur.
Under the calendar, the first day of school will be Aug. 26 and the last day of classes June 17.