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After many educators complained about certain holidays missing from the 2023-24 school calendar, New York City’s education department is adding four additional days off, officials announced Monday.
- Monday, April 1, for the day after Easter.
- Monday, April 29, and Tuesday, April 30, for the last two days of Passover, which did not fully overlap with spring break this year. (This extends the weeklong break by another two school days.)
- Monday, June 17, for Eid al-Adha. (The holiday begins on June 16.)
The changes mean that there will be 178 instructional days for students on the calendar, down from the original 182, though state law requires that school districts remain in session for at least 180 days or risk losing state funding. City education department spokesperson Nathaniel Styer said the city will not violate the 180-day rule because certain days devoted to teacher training will count toward the requirement.
State officials confirmed that up to four conference days, including staff orientation, curriculum development, and parent-teacher conferences, may count toward the 180-day requirement. But a state education department spokesperson said compliance with the mandate would depend on how the city reports the days to the state and couldn’t yet offer a definitive answer.
The long-delayed calendar, released earlier this month, touched off a wave of anger among educators and families of various religious groups. Because Easter and Passover are so far apart this year (since the Jewish holiday follows a lunar calendar), spring break became a scheduling conundrum.
The city initially had a day off for Good Friday but not Easter Monday, sparking some backlash. And though spring break coincided with the start of the eight-day holiday of Passover, it did not include the last two days, spurring a petition that garnered nearly 4,000 signatures. Some also expressed concern that the calendar left out Eid al-Adha, which families observe starting on Sunday but continues into the next day.
The calendar changes, announced on the second-to-last day of the school year, came hours after city officials held a celebration at City Hall to commemorate the passage of a state law that mandates Diwali as an official school holiday.
The holiday will not affect next year’s calendar because Diwali falls on Sunday, Nov. 12. (There is no set date for Diwali each year, as it is governed by the lunar calendar, but it falls in October or November.)
“For over two decades, the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean community has fought for this moment,” state Assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar said during the celebration at City Hall on Monday that included a smattering of state and local officials, including Mayor Eric Adams and schools Chancellor David Banks.
Diwali, known as the “festival of lights,” celebrates the triumph of good over evil and is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists.
Lawmakers initially proposed removing Anniversary Day, also known as Brooklyn-Queens Day, a holiday that celebrates the founding of the first Sunday school on Long Island. But some legislators objected to removing that holiday and pushed behind the scenes to keep it.
Rajkumar initially said that the city would not be able to meet the 180-day requirement without finding another holiday to leave off, though city officials say they will be able to add the new holiday without such a change.
The bill has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul, but a spokesperson signaled the governor’s support of the holiday and said the legislation is under review.
Banks emphasized that the education department plans to use the new holiday as an opportunity to teach children about Diwali, offering schools sample lesson plans and suggested activities. According to calendars posted Monday, New York City schools will be closed for Diwali on Monday, Oct. 20 in 2025. They will also be closed Friday, Nov. 1 in 2026.
“It’s less about the fact that schools will be closed in recognition of Diwali — it’s more about the fact that minds will be open because of what we are going to teach them,” he said.
Alex Zimmerman is a reporter for Chalkbeat New York, covering NYC public schools. Contact Alex at email@example.com.
Amy Zimmer is the bureau chief for Chalkbeat New York. Contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.