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Diwali is a commonly celebrated holiday at Westfield. It will be a school holiday on the FCPS calendar for the first time next year.

       This year the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) calendar recognizes 15 cultural and religious observance days. The 2022-23 calendar will recognize Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Orthodox Good Friday, and Diwali as holidays. Eid-al-Fitr and Lunar New Year will not fall on a school day, and there will be nine cultural observance days (O-days).

       The new changes are in response to the growing need for equity to support the diverse student body of  FCPS. As well as provide support to students who must skip school days to celebrate religious holidays. In the FCPS School Board Meeting on January 27, the board discussed these issues. It resulted in the new 2022-23 school calendar. 

       “We were trying to be more equitable on how to distribute religious holidays,” explains Amanda Dorr, Assistant principal. 

       Students are thrilled with the new changes to the calendar. “I think it’s cool, though, I don’t really celebrate Diwali that grandly,” explains Niranjana Ezhilarasan, 9.

       Students feared missing out on important course content, struggling to make up tests and quizzes, as well as getting extensions on homework assignments. O-days helped students celebrate their religious holidays and keep up with their workload. 

      The school policies on O-day will remain the same. No tests, quizzes, or new content can be taught or given on these days. Instead, teachers can use the day for review.

      Another issue that resulted in changes in the school calendar is the substitute teacher shortage. On Good Friday, this past April 15th, more than 70 teachers took the day off at Westfield alone. Making Good Friday a school holiday would fix that problem. 

      The school calendar is adaptable to the needs of teachers, students, and staff. It is a small step to equity in our county.