The Baltimore County School Board is deciding whether to start school before or after Labor Day next year.
But at a public hearing Tuesday night, the board heard mostly from people who asked it to treat the major religions equally when deciding on religious holidays in the 2020-2021 school calendar.
A number of speakers, such as Sharon Saroff, urged the board to respect the major Jewish and Muslim holy days.
“That’s what my Torah teaches me,” Saroff told the board. “That’s the way I was raised. And if I’m going to have my days off and I’m going to ask for my days to be off again, they should be able to have Eid off, both of them.”
Currently, the board is considering calendar options that would have students off for Yom Kippur and Eid-al-fitr the next school year but teachers would have to work. Rosh Hashanah falls on a weekend next year.
As for the Labor Day issue, next year the holiday falls on the latest possible date, September 7. So if school starts the next day, the last day of school could be as late as June 28, 2021.
Jeffrey Freedman, a teacher, asked the board to again start school the day after Labor Day.
“Since the change to after Labor Day, I feel that as a teacher my summer’s finally being respected,” Freedman said. “I love what I do. And I work very hard for nine to 10 months of the year. And I need this time to refresh and regroup.”
For the last three years, schools statewide had to start after Labor Day because of an executive order from Governor Larry Hogan. Hogan did that so both families and businesses could enjoy a longer summer and he cited polls that showed it was popular. The legislature this year killed that executive order, giving the authority back to local school boards.
The Baltimore County School Board is expected to vote on a calendar November 5.
Baltimore City, as well as Harford and Howard Counties are considering starting school in late August next year.