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For NYC Public Schools, a Short September Schedule

For NYC Public Schools, a Short September Schedule

Through a quirk of the calendar, New York City school children will have a mere 12 days of school this September. As the Wall Street Journal notes in its article on the topic, it’s a moment where children may be thrilled while many parents are not nearly so joyful.

How did this happen? A confluence of calendar coincidences:

  • A later-than-usual Labor Day pushes the first day of school to Sept. 9.
  • Schools close for three days of Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 14-15) and Yom Kippur (Sept. 23).
  • The Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha is the newest addition to the NYC schools calendar and falls out on Sept. 24 this year.

For many parents, as the Journal reports, the plethora of school closings means finding potentially costly child-care or taking the day off, which is not an option for everyone.

Still, closing for religious holidays when large numbers of students and/or teachers would otherwise be absent to observe them is not only convenient and respectful to those groups, it is, in my opinion, a tacit acknowledgement that the quality of education suffers with the ranks so depleted (not to mention the difficulties securing so many substitute teachers).

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In some ways, on this issue New York City may be a victim of its own size: Some areas may very well not see significantly reduced attendance on these holidays, but having different calendars in different parts of the city seems impractical at best.

Nevertheless, parents need not worry about this particular problem becoming a new norm, though next year’s holidays look only slightly more spaced out . An earlier Labor Day (next year it’s on Sept. 5) means school starts earlier. The Jewish holidays often fall out partly on weekends; next year’s remain weekdays, but don’t begin until early October. With the Muslim lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha can fall out virtually anytime during the year, though next year it is on Sept. 13. Mark your calendars, and reserve those babysitters early!