Progress on Religious Holiday Inclusion Within PPS

People Breaking their fasts in the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. Photo credit: Kenza Bey

Progress on Religious Holiday Inclusion Within PPS

By Kenza Bey (Freshman)

In 2021, PPS announced that in upcoming years, there wouldn’t be school on the day of Eid Al-Fitr, an Islamic holiday. Eid Al-Fitr translates to “Festival of Breaking Fast” and is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, a month-long holiday in which Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sundown. Eid Al-Fitr is one of two major festivals celebrated in Islam. Those who observe it typically take part in morning prayers and gather with family and friends to celebrate, give gifts, and prepare special meals.

Before this year, not showing up to school during Eid might include writing letters, missing assignments, and missing out on key learning. As the holiday is in the middle of PSSA and Keystone testing season, a missed day could be detrimental towards future grades.

This might not seem like a huge deal,  as Pittsburgh is currently home to around 10,000 Muslims, but this holiday is the Islamic equivalent to Christmas or Easter for Christians. Having school during Eid was seen as insulting to the Islamic community of Pittsburgh. With the fast growing population of Muslims in Pittsburgh, the change was welcome. 

Despite this recognition for not only the students, but also the parents who have fought long and hard for this change, it is clear that PPS still has a lot to learn. The aknowledgement is a big step in the right direction, we cannot ignore the need for improvement. 

The Eagle Times recently noticed that on all PPS calendars, rather than having a day off on Monday May 2nd, the day of Eid, it seems that all schools have a day off on Tuesday that follows. They also have PSSA testing scheduled for that Monday which might distupt Islamic students’ schedules. 

It is hard to shrug this off as a simple mistake. A simple Google search would have  provided them the correct answer. If this is simply a clerical error, the fact that no one has to fixed it reflects major disorganization in PPS administration. If it is a genuine misconception of the date, the gross lack of effort made by PPS to double check might be even worse. PPS is trying to make progress, but it is clear that there is still a long way to go.

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