I am writing in response to the opinion piece "Havener: Loudoun County School Board should familiarize itself with the constitution," published in your newspaper on November 11th, 2020.
I understand the argument that LCPS should not include new breaks for religious holidays based on the separation of church and state, but perhaps some perspectives were not fully explored here. Havener claims that these breaks would violate the First Amendment by mandating all LCPS students to observe holidays that do not correlate with their practicing religion. What about the students who do not observe Christmas and Easter? LCPS found a loophole for including those breaks in the school year by simply changing the names to “winter break” and “spring break."
As a former student of LCPS and with family currently attending its schools, activities based around Christmas and Easter are still present before breaks, alienating non-Christian students. Therefore, the separation the First Amendment seeks cannot be solely acquired by changing Christian names and excluding other religious holidays from the schedule.
Havner mentions that any student who wishes to be absent from school to observe Yom Kippur, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, or Rosh Hashanah can be granted an excused absence. However, excused absences don’t negate the absence. That Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim child would still be missing out on a part of their education that a Cristian child wouldn’t. It may be rash to completely disregard a conversation that may help children who come from different religious backgrounds succeed.