DETROIT — Detroit schools will recognize a Muslim holiday for the first time in history, as the school board voted this past Tuesday to include the observance of Eid al-Fitr on May 25, 2020, which would have already been a day off for Memorial Day, and May 26, 2020 (a proposed professional development day for teachers). The change will give students more time to observe the holiday, which officially marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
“By contrast, we Muslims are obligated to miss school in order to commemorate our sacred holidays, even though the district includes a large population of Muslim students,” wrote one student, Mohammad Muntakim, who is a sophomore at Cass Tech High School and president of the school’s Muslim Student Association. “That leaves us behind our classmates, and we are forced to catch up for doing nothing more than observing our religious holidays.”
The new day of observance also includes more teacher training days, a shorter mid-winter break and extra days built into the end of the academic calendar for snow days, the Detroit Free Press reported.
An earlier start to the school year is also part of the new calendar.
Other school districts have been pushing for recognization of the Eid holidays, including Dearborn Public Schools, the Crestwood School District in Dearborn Heights, and Hamtramck Public Schools, where a large Muslim population is present as well.
Eid al-Fitr falls on a school day during the 2019-2020 academic year. Many Muslim students already tend to take days off to recognize the holiday.
This year, Eid al-Fitr is expected to begin on Monday, June 3 and end on Tuesday, June 4. Ramadan is expected to begin on Sunday, May 5 and end on June 4, although dates may vary depending on when the new moon is sighted.