The Anne Arundel County Board of Education will vote on a final 2022-23 school year calendar at its first meeting of the new year and, unlike the options initially proposed, possible plans will include a day off on April 21, 2023, the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.
The proposal is more than just a day off, resident Amara Chaudhry said during public comment — it is about the Muslim community being recognized and afforded the same opportunities as other religions.
“We are asking for the inclusion and acknowledgment of a community that is an integral part of this county, whose kids are a huge part of the school system and whose families are long-standing and proud residents of Anne Arundel County,” Chaudry said.
“More than anything though, we are asking for equal opportunity. Equal opportunity for Muslim kids to celebrate their most important date of faith and culture with families, and the equal opportunity to do so without having to sacrifice time in school.”
Rudwan Abu-rumman, president of the Anne Arundel Muslim Council, also spoke in favor of the day off for students.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, and its date of celebration changes based on the lunar calendar. It is celebrated from sunset to sunset the following day. In 2022, Eid al-Fitr will begin at sunset May 2 and end at sunset May 3. Schools are closed for the holiday on May 3, a Tuesday.
In 2023, Eid al-Fitr will begin at sunset on April 21, a Friday, and end at sunset April 22, a Saturday, when schools are typically closed.
Both calendar options reviewed Wednesday by the Board of Education for the 2022-23 school year noted the holiday and a policy stating school-sponsored events could not be held starting at sundown the day before the observance but did not provide for a day off. Time off from school was given around Christmas as part of winter break, though that holiday also falls on the weekend.
The Morning Sun
District 5 representative Dana Schallheim made a motion to amend one of the calendar options to provide for a day off on April 21, 2023, for Eid al-Fitr and to extend the school year by one day, to June 16.
While the calendar was discussed Wednesday, a final version has not been adopted. The two options considered Wednesday started school ahead of the Labor Day holiday, with students returning Aug. 29, 2022.
Earlier this year the board approved a measure giving the system’s calendar committee, which creates the options for the academic years, guidance about Labor Day.
The guidance was that if Labor Day falls on Sept. 5 or later, the school year will begin the preceding Monday; if Labor Day falls on or before Sept. 4, the school year should begin the day after Labor Day. Labor Day fell on Monday, Sept. 5, this year, which led to the Monday, Aug. 29, start date.
District 3 representative Corine Frank said her constituents have reached out to her to express their surprise about the school year starting before Labor Day. She said she would spend December speaking with members of the calendar committee about the possibility of a third calendar option where school starts in September.
“I would like to have more conversations before we make a decision,” Frank said.
District 7 representative Michelle Corkadel made a motion, which was approved 6-1, moving consideration of the 2022-23 calendar to the Jan. 5 meeting.