City adds Lunar New Year holiday to school calendar

(Originally  posted June 23, 2015) Students won’t have to play hooky next year to celebrate Lunar New Year. The mayor and chancellor announced Tuesday that they are adding the holiday to the coming school year.

“We pledged to families we would keep working until we made Lunar New Year an official school holiday, and today we are keeping that promise,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement June 23. “We are proud to be the largest school district in the nation to recognize the heritage of our Asian-American community by recognizing LunarNew Year.”

The announcement during the last week of school appeared to be a surprise as advocates pressing for inclusion of the Chinese New Year did not appear optimistic that the holiday would be added to the 2015-16 year. Many were disappointed when the mayor did not include Lunar New Year earlier this year when he announced the addition of two Muslim holidays to the school year, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

There will be no school Mon., Feb. 8, 2016 to celebrate the holiday. The city was able to maintain the mandated 180-day schedule by consolidating two half-days for administrative work into one day.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña called the addition “a welcome teachable moment in the classroom for our students to learn about the contributions of various cultures.”

Politicians from all over the city praised the decision in the Dept. of Education’s press release including several who represent at least part of Manhattan’s Chinatown: U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Margaret Chin.

Some schools in the neighborhood reported absence rates of over 80 percent on Lunar New Year. In a statement, Chin said 15 percent of public school students across the city observe the holiday and the announcement “gives Lunar NewYear the respect and recognition it has long deserved.”



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