FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — The Fairfax County School Board voted on Thursday to adopt a new school calendar, adding new holidays celebrated by several different religions.

Starting next year, the calendar will now include closures for other faith holidays like Yom Kippur, Eid-al-Fitr and Diwali.

“I want to thank our community for their involvement in the development of this calendar. This calendar has been a collaborative effort between staff, students, families and our community, and it truly supports our strategic plan goals of Student SuccessCaring CulturePremier Workforce, and Resource Stewardship,” said Stella Pekarksy, Chair, Fairfax County School Board and Sully District Representative in a release.

Scheduled professional days will also be held on Veteran’s Day and Good Friday. The changes now align school holidays with neighboring northern Virginia school districts.

Board Member Elaine Tholen said the calendar will also help with staffing issues in the schools.

“The number of days on our calendar that did not coincide with days that neighboring jurisdictions had off have caused and are causing significant needs for substitute teachers. At a time where we have a shortage of substitutes, this is a real issue for school management,” said Tholen.

The new academic calendar will include:

  • Alignment with surrounding jurisdictions.
  • 14 professional work days for teacher planning and professional development time.
  • Additional days off. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Orthodox Good Friday, and Diwali will now be designated as student holidays. (Eid and Lunar New Year fall on a non-school day in 2022.) 
  • Inclusion of Veterans Day as a student holiday and staff work day. 
  • A change in FCPS’ approach to “O” days. Regulation 2234 will be revised to allow new instruction to take place on days denoted as religious and cultural observances. Tests, quizzes, tryouts that cannot be rescheduled, and sporting events and other school-sponsored special events and activities will still be prohibited.

FCPS says over 72,000 families, staff and students participated in a survey asking which holidays they wanted to see added to the calendar.