VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Members of the Jewish community spoke to the Virginia Beach School Board on Tuesday night about changing the first day of the 2021-2022 school year.
The calendar as-is had the first day of class for 2021 on the day after Labor Day, on the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. The holiday marks the start of the Jewish New Year.
With an apology, the Virginia Beach School Board Tuesday night voted to suspend the calendar for further review.
“I’m sorry that I did not understand what Rosh Hashana means to the Jewish Community,” said Victoria Manning, the first of several board members to address the issue before the vote.
Virginia Beach Schools traditionally starts the day after Labor Day, and local Jewish leaders said this year’s calendar is an “unprecedented situation.”
“Emails and speeches have enlightened all of us,” board member Beverly Anderson said.
Jewish parents said they were not happy about the scheduling conflict.
Board member Dan Edwards appeared to place some of the blame on the calender committee that recommended the schedule. That committee falls under the superintendent.
“We had a flawed input and we weren’t smart enough to ask the right questions,” Edwards said. “And we’ll fix it.”
Several students of Jewish faith spoke, saying that not getting Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off puts them at both an educational and social disadvantage, as it stands.
What annoyed some even more is that the school board included the Monday after Easter off to allow time for post-holiday travel.
“You’ve basically told our community that Christian travel is more important than Jewish customs and traditions,” said Danille Coughlin, a teacher at Thalia Elementary.