Religious and Cultural Observances
Certain events cannot be scheduled on any of the days
Religious and cultural observances days are designed to allow students the opportunity to miss school for those observances not already designated as school holidays. Whether these observances fall on school holidays, weekends or are deemed as religious and cultural observance days will depend on the calendar adopted each year due to the fact that some of the dates vary annually.
As some religious and cultural observances start the evening before, these have been designated as “evening only” in the calendar to help staff avoid these dates when scheduling key events.
In response to the School Board follow-on motion from March 4, 2021, days designated as religious and cultural observance days in Regulation 2234 have been included as “O Days” in the school year calendar. These days reflect the diversity of our community and were originally determined based on their operational impact using student and staff absentee data.
2022-23 Religious and Cultural Observances
Seven Full-Day Observances
Observances that are not on weekends, student holidays, or during school breaks for the 2022-23 school year are:
- 11/01/22 - All Saints Day/Dia de los Muertos (Religious and Cultural Observance Day).
- 11/02/22 - Dia de los Muertos (Religious and Cultural Observance Day).
- 12/08/22 - Bodhi Day (Religious and Cultural Observance Day).
- 01/06/23 - Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Religious and Cultural Observance Day).
- 01/19/23 - Orthodox Epiphany (Religious and Cultural Observance Day).
- 03/23/23 - First Full Day of Ramadan (Religious and Cultural Observance Day).
- 04/13/23 - Last Day of Passover (Religious and Cultural Observance Day).
Verified student absences on these days may not be designated an unexcused absence by a principal. Students will not be penalized for missing these days.
In an effort to respect the diverse religious and cultural heritages of our students, teachers shall create lessons or activities on designated observance days that:
a. Reinforce previously acquired material or;
b. Introduce new material provided that the lesson content is made available to students using the learning management system and the teacher follows up directly with students who miss the lesson for a religious or cultural observance.
c. Engage students in meaningful learning
d. Are not the sole opportunity to engage in lessons or activities presented on that day.
When creating school schedules, teachers and school staff shall not schedule the following activities on days specified as religious and cultural observances;
a. Tests, quizzes, or other assessments
b. Field trips, school pictures, guest speakers, or assemblies
c. Sporting events, school-sponsored special events and activities (for example, prom, back-to-school nights)
d. Auditions or tryouts that cannot be rescheduled
e. Safety drills which occur 1-2 times per year including tornado, earthquake and lockdown
No graded assignments or activities should be due on the day following a religious and cultural observance day unless it has been announced at least one week prior to the due date.
When creating division-wide schedules, departments and offices shall not schedule the following activities on days specified as religious and cultural observances:
a. Division-wide special events (for example, graduation, first day of school)
b. Centralized tests or other assessments
c. Recruiting and hiring events
d. Professional development activities or other conferences
e. Town halls or other community events
Three Partial-Day Observances
Observances that start after sunset for the 2022-23 school year are:
- 10/04/22 - Yom Kippur begins.
- 03/22/23 - Ramadan begins.
- 04/20/23 - Eid al Fitr begins.
School and Divisionwide Schedules
When the religious and cultural observance begins at sundown, the following activities and events shall not occur after school hours:
a. School-sponsored special events and activities (for example, prom, back-toschool nights)
b. Auditions or tryouts that cannot be rescheduled
c. Division-wide special events (for example, graduation, first day of school)
d. Recruiting and hiring events
e. Professional development activities or other conferences
f. Town halls or other community events
State, national, and international competitions, exams, or sporting events (for example, SAT, SOL, AP/IB, VHSL) are not bound by this regulation. FCPS will make every effort possible to communicate dates that are not bound by this regulation.
Parents and students who are not satisfied with their school’s response to religious and cultural observances should speak to the school principal. Further appeals may be made to the region assistant superintendent.
Full List of Days
The full list of Religious and Cultural Observance days that will be observed for the 2022-23 school year are*:
a. All Saints Day/Dia de los Muertos
b. Bodhi Day
d. Eid al-Adha
e. Eid al-Fitr
f. First full day of Ramadan
g. Good Friday
h. Last day of Passover
i. Lunar New Year
j. Orthodox Christmas
k. Orthodox Epiphany
l. Orthodox Good Friday
m. Rosh Hashanah
o. Three Kings Day/Epiphany
p. Yom Kippur
* Please note that these observances will be updated in light of the School Board’s inclusion of additional "O Days" in the 2023-24, 2024-25 and 2025-26 School Year Calendars.
To provide support to staff, Regulation 4817 regarding religious accommodations was revised to strengthen employee rights by requiring program managers to approve personal or annual leave requests on religious and cultural observance days. Previously, those requests could be denied. Employees have three options to observe a religious and cultural observance day:
- Annual or personal leave may be used.
- Up to 16 hours of religious leave can be made up annually to preserve leave.
- Leave without pay may also be used.
The division has required that no unique staff events occur on designated days to ensure that no staff member is disadvantaged by taking leave.
All staff were required to complete professional development that outlined the expectations for religious and cultural observance days, including the impacts to instruction and the changes to employee rights. Toolkits for teachers, managers, and employees were also developed.