Survey: Prince William Co. parents and staff prefer traditional school calendar, over more inclusive option

Given the option of an alternative school calendar, which would include Jewish, Hindu and Muslim holidays, but trim vacation days, 65% of parents and staff in Virginia’s Prince William County prefer to stick to the original schedule, according to a school system survey.

Earlier this month, Prince William County proposed a new, more diverse school calendar, which “incorporates additional holidays that reflect the diversity of the PWCS community,” and asked parents, students and staff to weigh-in on a survey.

According to the school system, 65% of 13,000 respondents prefer the traditional school calendar, largely because the alternative calendar would have shortened winter break by three days and eliminated a day off on the Monday after spring break.

The proposed calendar would include the following:

  • Jewish new year of Rosh Hashanah;
  • Jewish day of atonement Yom Kippur;
  • Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights;
  • Eid al-Fitr, which marks breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan.

In a presentation of survey results, the school system said respondents’ key themes in comments showed a desire to maintain the originally scheduled two-week winter break, and concern about how the holidays would be listed.

The comments showed respondents believed the proposed alternative calendar was inclusive, and were interested in the possibility of year-round school, according to the PWCS presentation.

The Prince William County School Board is scheduled to vote on its choice for the 2021-2022 calendar at its Nov. 4 meeting.

Virginia requires the school year must begin with at least 180 days, which led to the decision to shave originally-scheduled vacation days, to preserve a starting date of Aug. 23, 2021 and a final day of school, on June 10, 2022.

In the 2020-21 calendar, holidays include Labor Day, Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving break, winter break, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidential Inauguration Day, Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day and Memorial Day.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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