District by district, Eid al-Adha will now become a holiday where more Muslim children in the United States can look forward to celebrating outside of school. The Howard County Board of Education in Maryland voted unanimously on Thursday to add Eid al-Adha to the list of days off for religious holidays, as recognition of Muslim holidays grows within U.S. school districts. Alongside the Eid, the County boards also added Lunar New Years and the Hindu holiday Diwali.
Schools will continue to observe the Jewish holy days Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana.
"I am extremely pleased by the Board's ability to discuss and unanimously agree to seek ways to recognize the diverse backgrounds of Howard County's students and families," said Christine O'Connor, the chairwoman of the board, the Baltimore Sun reported. "We want to do our best to find flexibility within the calendar to provide opportunities for all students to experience all cultures within our community."
Back in March 2015, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that the city's public schools would close for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, starting in the fall of 2015. "This is a common sense change and one that recognizes our growing Muslim community and honors its contributions to our city,” de Blasio said in astatement.
School districts elsewhere in the country, including in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have made similar decisions to close on Muslim holidays. Some have recognized the holidays for years, while others have done so only recently.
There has been, however, some criticism of the addition of the Muslim holidays.
"We have 67 different languages spoken in Clifton homes, and we have many different ethnic groups," said James Daly, president of the board of education in Clifton, New Jersey, a school district that in 2010 considered observing Muslim holidays. "Once you start making accommodations for one group, where do you draw the line?" he asked, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
Others contend that as school districts become more diverse, it's fair — and necessary — to recognize different cultures and religions by observing their holy days.
"When these holidays are recognized, it’s a sign that Muslims have a role in the political and social fabric of America," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the New York Times in March 2015, after New York City's decision to observe both Eid holidays.