JCPS Calendar of Events
- A Parent's Guide to Religion in the Public Schools
- Favorite Holiday Poster Projects Aren't Inclusive (Learning for Justice, 12/11/2020)
- Guía De Los Padres Para La Religion En Las Escuelas Publicas
- JCPS Religious Observances Guide
- A Teacher's Guide to Religion in the Public Schools
Note: Please check the following dates with the school/district calendar of events to ensure we are mindful of religious observances as we plan events for the school year.
Religious Observances 2022-23
As a public school district, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) must be neutral regarding religion, but this neutrality exists in tension with the JCPS District’s responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of individual students and their families so that no students are penalized because of their beliefs, including those who do not identify with a religion or consider themselves atheist or agnostic. This advisory describes general approaches and notes areas requiring particular attention and action. Below is a list of the most common religions in the district. The religions are listed in alphabetical order.
All Faith Groups, All Seasons
The district’s policy on absence for religious observances is as follows:
- Students absent for religious observances receive excused absences; they have the number of days they were absent, plus one, to make up work. Students may not be required to turn in make-up assignments on the day of their return after the observance; such a requirement would constitute the school’s interference with the religious observance.
- Please refer to the JCPS Student Support and Behavior Intervention Handbook and the Student Bill of Rights.
- Scheduling special events during the school day as well as after-school and evening activities requires sensitivity in order to avoid forcing students to choose between major school events and major religious events.
- Consult the calendar. When are major religious holidays observed during the year? Talk with your school’s families. Who observes holidays that are not congruent with the civil calendar? Does the day begin at sundown or sunup? Are they Sabbath (no work/no school) holidays? Are there special dietary needs that School and Community Nutrition Services should consider? Are there times when field trips will be difficult because of students’ dietary needs or special religious responsibilities?
- Plan around these dates when scheduling one-time events that cannot be made up (e.g., Open House, homecoming, graduation, major tests, reviews for major tests, introducing new material or skills if no make-up is feasible—any major event that will put absent students at a disadvantage). Some coaches choose to avoid scheduling athletic events on days that team members will be absent for religious observances.
- When planning weekend events, assess the feasibility of scheduling some events on Sunday so that all groups share the responsibility for being flexible and understanding.
- Give attention to the patterns of children’s participation in evening religious activities. Consider creating a flexible homework schedule so students don’t have major homework on the evenings that they worship until 8 or 9 p.m.
- As our community becomes more diverse, paying attention to food choices becomes more important. We now have many people who eat no meat, so the need for alternatives is becoming the rule rather than the exception. The School and Community Nutrition Services director will assist your cafeteria manager in identifying appropriate alternative selections.
- Talk with parents! Keep in mind that families’ expectations are not uniform—even within the same group. Ongoing, open conversation with members of your school community is critical to addressing religion appropriately in our diverse district.
- Use the district’s resources for assistance in addressing issues concerning religion and the public schools. For more information, please call Dr. Monica Lakhwani, JCPS Diversity/Multicultural Education Specialist, at (502) 485-7269.
The Bahai faith was founded in 1863 in Persia and emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind. Members of the Bahai community observe nine days each year when they refrain from working; these observances begin at sundown the day before the stated date. Talk with your Bahai families to identify dates affecting them. Significant Bahai observances include Martyrdom of Bab (July 10, 2022), Birth of the Bab (October 26, 2022), Birth of Baha’u’llah (October 27, 2022), and Naw-Ruz (March 21, 2023) is the Bahai New Year's Day and coincides with the spring equinox. Naw-Ruz is an ancient Persian festival celebrating the "new day." Called Nowruz, it is also celebrated as the Persian New Year in the Iranian community and many other Asian communities. Some employees and students may be absent during this holiday. Ayyam-i-Ha (February 26–March 1, 2023), or "Days of Ha," are devoted to spiritual preparation for the fast, hospitality, charity, and gift giving.
Buddhism was founded in Northern India by the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. He lived from approximately 566 to 480 B.C. Practitioners follow many different forms of Buddhism, but all traditions are characterized by the tenets of nonviolence, lack of dogma, and tolerance of differences. The most significant holiday in Buddhist communities is Vesak (Buddha Day), which celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. The date of this holiday is different in every cultural community, but the celebrations usually occur in May. Local dates may vary. Talk with your Buddhist families to identify dates affecting them.
Because the civil calendar generally reflects the Western Christian liturgical year, Christian families experience few problems with scheduling.
- Advent begins on Sunday, November 27, and ends on Saturday, December 24. Some employees and students may observe dietary restrictions during this time. Advent is a time of preparation leading up to Christmas Day on December 25. For some Christians, Christmas lasts from December 25, until Epiphany on January 6.
- On Ash Wednesday, February 22, some employees and students might be absent for at least part of the day.
- Throughout Lent, some Christian students and employees will have food restrictions that require alternative menus. (The Nutrition Services director is working with cafeteria managers to identify appropriate alternative selections.)
- Holy Week, April 2–8, brings special responsibilities for some students, making it impossible for them to complete major assignments or to participate in evening activities or overnight trips. Schools that have Christian students will want to avoid scheduling major events on Ash Wednesday evening, Good Friday (April 7), or on Easter Sunday (April 9).
Eastern Orthodox Christianity
The Eastern Orthodox Christian Church follows the Julian Calendar, rather than the Gregorian Calendar of the Western churches. Most local-area Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, 2022 but some may observe the holiday on January 7. The Nativity Fast will begin on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 and end on Saturday, December 24, 2022. During this time, Orthodox Christians have dietary restrictions. Orthodox Lent begins on Monday, February 27, 2023 and ends on Saturday, April 15, 2023. Orthodox Easter (Holy Pascha) is celebrated on Sunday, April 16, 2023. Orthodox Christian students and employees may not be present for school/work on Orthodox Holy Friday, April 14, 2023. Please be aware that throughout Lent, Orthodox students and employees honor certain food restrictions and are at times required to attend religious activities in the evenings.
Hinduism is India’s indigenous religious and cultural system, followed today by nearly 1 billion adherents, mostly in India, but with large populations in many other countries. All Hindu denominations share a vast heritage of culture and belief: karma, dharma, reincarnation, all-pervasive Divinity, temple worship, sacraments, manifold Deities, the many yogas, the guru-nishya tradition, and a reliance on the Vedas as scriptural authority. The most important holidays in Hinduism are Janmasthami (August 19, 2022), Ganesh Chaturthi (August 30–31, 2022), Dussehra (October 4–5, 2022), Diwali (October 24, 2022), Maha Shivratri (February 18, 2023), and Holi Day (March 8, 2023). The exact date of celebration for these holidays can vary in each Hindu community. Students and employees may be absent during these holidays or unable to attend activities after school or work hours.
Important: Please note that the exact dates for Muslim holidays can vary by a day or two and are subject to local sightings of the new moon.
Islam is the complete submission and obedience to Allah (God). The faithful of Islam refer to themselves as Muslims. Important Islamic observances that will take place during summer or during the school year include Hajj (Annual Pilgrimage to Mecca) from July 7–12, 2022; Eid ul-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) on July 9, 2022; and the Islamic New Year on July 30, 2022. Ashura is an important observance for Shia Muslims and will take place on August 8, 2022. Mawlid al-Nabi is the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and is observed on October 8, 2022. Students and employees may be absent during these observances or unable to attend activities after school or work hours. Every year, Muslims engage in a 30-day, sunup-to-sundown fast called Ramadan (March 22–April 21, 2023). When Ramadan occurs during the school year, schools and offices can best support fasting students and employees by helping others understand the nature and purpose of fasting, by voicing their own support for commitment to a goal, and by discouraging those who tease and challenge fasting students’ and employees’ commitment to the discipline. Eid ul Fitr (April 22, 2023) is a festival that celebrates the end of the Ramadan fast.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian group who avoid practices that have come down from ancient nature religions as well as celebrations related to earthly governments; practically speaking, that eliminates all the holidays observed by other religious groups and the culture at large. They take very seriously their responsibility to witness to their beliefs, so even the youngest children are taught to refrain from engaging in conventional school celebrations. Some children are permitted to participate in class activities that focus on teaching about celebrations as an integral part of the instructional content. Jehovah’s Witnesses place very high value on education, are eager to support the school, and deeply appreciate ongoing conversation with teachers.
Judaism is an ancient monotheistic religion. The Torah, Midrash, and Talmud are the central texts of the Jewish faith. Jewish holidays begin at sundown of the previous day. In addition to an abstinence from work, people of the Jewish faith may observe some of these holidays with fasting, family gatherings, prayer, and attendance at synagogues.
- Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Sunday, September 25, 2022, and ends at sundown Tuesday, September 27, 2022. Jewish students and employees will be unavailable for school-related activities on Sunday evening and absent on Monday and Tuesday.
- Yom Kippur begins at sundown Tuesday, October 4, 2022, and ends at sundown Wednesday, October 5, 2022. Jewish students and employees will be absent for school-related activities on Tuesday evening and absent on Wednesday.
- Sukkot (Harvest Festival) begins at sundown Sunday, October 9, 2022, and ends at sundown Sunday, October 16, 2022. Students and employees will be absent from school/work activities during the first two and last days (Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah on October 16–18, 2022) of Sukkot.
- Hanukkah is from December 18 to December 26, 2022. Students and employees are generally not absent from school/work for this holiday, but may be unavailable for school-related activities in the evening.
- Purim begins at sundown Monday, March 6, 2023, and ends at sundown Tuesday, March 7, 2023. Jewish students and employees may be unavailable for evening activities on Monday and may be absent on Tuesday.
- Pesach (Passover) begins at sundown Wednesday, April 5, 2023, and ends at sundown Thursday, April 13, 2023. Jewish students and employees may be absent from school-/work-related activities during the first two and last two days of Passover. During Passover, dietary requirements can be extensive and make some activities difficult for Jewish students and employees.
- Shavuot begins at sundown Thursday, May 25, 2023, and ends at sundown Saturday, May 27, 2023. Some Jewish students and employees may be absent from school-related activities from Thursday evening until Saturday evening.
Doctrinally, Seventh-Day Adventists are heirs of the interfaith Millerite movement of the 1840s. Seventh-Day Adventists are Christians who observe Saturday as their Sabbath, which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. Adventists follow certain dietary restrictions that include not eating pork and certain seafoods.
Note: Throughout the school year, members of Jewish and Seventh-Day Adventists families value public education highly and accept the fact that some school events will be scheduled during their Sabbath; however, schools serving Jewish and Seventh-Day Adventist students will want to avoid scheduling major events, such as proms and graduation ceremonies, at any time on Friday evening or on Saturday before 9 p.m.
We acknowledge that there are various religions that may not be listed here, including but not limited to Wicca, Santeria, Yoruba, Mormon, etc.
- Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. 5th St., Louisville, KY 40202
- Center for Interfaith Relations, 415 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville, KY 40202
- Maqsood Ahmed, Ph.D., Board of Directors, Islamic School of Louisville
- Matt Goldberg, Director of Community Relations, Jewish Federation of Louisville
- Orthodox Church in America