Last 2 days of Passover will now be days off at NYC public schools next year


(New York Jewish Week) — Following pushback by parents and educators, New York City’s Department of Education has added the last two days of Passover as days off in the 2023-2024 school calendar.

The revised calendar includes four additional days off, including Monday, April 29, and Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Both days are observed as non-work, non-school holidays by observant Jews.

As the New York Jewish Week reported on June 7, many New York City educators and parents were angry when they learned that public schools would be open on those days next year, a break from a longstanding tradition that aligns the public schools’ spring break with the eight-day Jewish holiday.

In an email to the New York Jewish Week Monday, DOE spokesperson Nathanial Styer, said the “changes were made based on community feedback.”

Passover has overlapped virtually every year with the city’s spring break since 1973 — as JTA reported at the time, Orthodox Jewish teachers successfully lobbied to guarantee the alignment.

But when the long-delayed 2023-2024 school calendar was released at the beginning of June, Spring Recess was scheduled from Monday, April 22 through Friday, April 26, excluding the final days of Passover. In 2024, Easter and Passover are separated by three weeks, making it impossible for the city’s approximately weeklong school recess to overlap with both holidays.

As a result, nearly 4,000 public school teachers, staff and parents signed a petition demanding that the last two days of Passover — when certain activities are prohibited according to Jewish law, meaning observant educators and students would not be able to attend school — be added as days off on the DOE calendar.

“At a time when the values of inclusion are under attack, respecting the full observance of the Passover holiday should not be dependent on its proximity to Easter on the calendar,” stated the petition, whose first signatories were from the occupational and physical therapists’ chapter of the United Federation of Teachers.

In a bid for inclusion, the education department has added holidays from several traditions to the school calendar in recent years — including the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha; the Chinese Lunar New Year; Juneteenth, and, soon, the Hindu festival of Diwali. Depending on when each holiday falls, the additional days off can put pressure on city schools to meet a 180-day minimum set by state law.

“There is no precedent for giving all days of Passover” off when the holiday doesn’t align with Easter, Styer said in a statement that appeared in the New York Jewish Week article June 7. “There has been a split three times in recent memory — with the last night [of Passover] falling on the weekend. It is in our labor agreements that only the first two days of Passover and Good Friday are covered. Spring Recess is not in our labor contracts, but we generally attempt to cover most of Passover & Easter, when they are aligned on the calendar.”

On June 13, Mayor Eric Adams announced a tentative, five-plus year agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, the union that represents New York City’s public school staff and educators. Changes to their contracts included annual raises ranging from 3% to 3.5%, an annual bonus and a sizable expansion of virtual learning. At the time, no mention was made of the school calendar, which, upon its release earlier this month, had 185 workdays for educators, including 182 instructional days.

The revised calendar — which also includes days off for the day after Easter and for Eid al-Adha — now includes 178 instructional days. Styer told Chalkbeat that certain days dedicated to teacher training will count toward the state-mandated 180-day minimum.

Next year, Diwali is on a weekend, but according to the calendars posted on the DOE web site on Monday, New York City schools will be closed for the holiday on Monday, Oct. 20 in 2025 and Friday, Nov. 1 in 2026.