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Islamic Holidays Will Not Be Added to MCPS Calendar

The county school board asked that absenteeism be monitored on Islamic holidays to determine whether or not adding Islamic holidays to the list of no-school days is warranted.

Islamic holidays will not be added to the Montgomery County Public Schools list of no-school days in the foreseeable future, The Washington Post reported.

Members of the county school board said Tuesday that they could not add a school holiday just for religious reasons, but asked that attendance be monitored closely on Islamic holidays to determine if closing school on those days would be warranted, The Post added. Students who miss school for religions reasons are excused from class, but still need to make up the work from the school day.

"There are no exact figures on Muslim students or teachers in Montgomery, but Muslim leaders say the population is sizable and growing. ... [Still, in] recent years, absenteeism on Muslim holidays has not been high," according to school officials, The Post reported.

The Montgomery County Public Schools calendar already includes several holidays related to the Christian calendar (Christmas, Good Friday, the so-called "Easter Monday") and to the Jewish calendar (Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah). 

Major Islamic holidays include Eid al-Fitr (which next begins at the end of Ramadan on Aug. 8, 2013—starting at sundown the previous day) and Eid al-Adha (which next begins on Oct. 15, 2013—also starting at sundown the previous day). Islamic holidays are celebrated 11 days earlier each year.

In Cambridge, MA, public schools began closing for one Islamic holiday a year starting in the 2011-2012 school year, The Boston Globe reported.

Public schools in Dearborn, MI, began closing for Islamic holidays 12 years ago, due to the district's large Muslim population, and public schools in Burlington, VT, also have observed Islamic holidays, The Globe added.

Read more about the issue on The Post's website.

Should Islamic holidays should be added to the county's list of no-school days? Tell us in the comments.

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