NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City public schools have added two Muslim holidays to the school calendar, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina announced Wednesday.
Schools will now close for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, making New York City the largest school district in the nation to recognize the two holidays on the official school calendar.
“We are committed to having a school calendar that reflects and honors the extraordinary diversity of our students,” said Farina.
De Blasio said the change means that Muslim families won’t be forced to choose between observing the holidays and sending their kids to school.
“They want to celebrate their holiday but they also want to go to school, they love school. So now they don’t have to make that choice and this is why this is so amazing,” mother of three Linda Sarsour told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
The announcement was made at PS/IS 30 in Brooklyn, where officials said 36 percent of students were absent the last time Eid al-Adha fell on a school day.
“We’re here today to make good on a promise to our Muslim brothers and sisters that a holiday of supreme importance to the Muslim community will be recognized in our school calendar so that children can honor the holiday without missing school,” the mayor said.
“I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for adding Eid-al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr to the public school holiday calendar,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “Islam is one of the largest religions in the world, and the Muslim community is thriving not just in The Bronx but throughout the city of New York. This decision allows our city’s Muslim community to fully practice their faith without it interfering with their school attendance and education. As I have said in the past, by recognizing these two important holidays, we show that not only are we welcoming to everyone’s religious beliefs but that we respect everyone’s Constitutional right to freedom of religion.”
Eid al-Adha will be observed for the first time on Sept. 24. Eid-al-Fitr, which falls over the summer, will be designated a holiday for those attending summer school.
De Blasio said it’s all about respect for families, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
“Families are the fabric of our city. They’re the core of our city,” the mayor said. “All families deserve respect. Every kind of family deserves respect, and that’s what we’re noting today.”
The added holidays are familiar to most of the children in at least one Midwood Pre-K class.
When many of them go on to public school they’ll stay home for Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr without missing any classes.
“This is going to enlighten the understanding there is another holiday and it is for the Muslim community,” Mohammad Razvi told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
Eid al-Adha, the ‘Feast of Sacrifice’ commemorates Abraham’s devotion to God. Eid al-Fitr is the ‘Feast of Breaking the Fast’ at the end of Ramadan.
Both holidays use the Islamic lunar calendar causing the dates to move.
The decision drew mixed reactions from parents.
“It’s going to be hard on the parents. It doesn’t make sense. Too many holidays already,” Felix Beato said.
Kashif Hussain welcomes it for his family. He remembers holidays being stressful when he was at Brooklyn’s Madison High.
“I had to pray, run, and miss my first three classes,” he said.
Other school districts in Vermont, Massachusetts and New Jersey already close public schools in observance of Muslim holidays, according to the city. New York is now the largest.