Mass. School System Closes for Muslim Holy Day

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A Massachusetts school system was among the first schools in the country to give students a day off for a Muslim holiday.

Students in Cambridge, Mass., returned to class Tuesday after being off Monday for what's known as Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice.

It also marked the first time a school in the state closed for a Muslim holy day.

"We're ecstatic about this,'' Atif Harden, interim executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, told The Boston Globe.

"This is the first year that it's going to occur. This sort of recognition of our existence and the population we have, we feel very good about," he added.

A school committee approved the holiday last year because of the district's sizeable Muslim population.

According to school officials, Cambridge city schools will close either for Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, depending on which holiday falls within the school year.

If both fall within the school calendar, the district will close for only one of those days.

State and federal laws require schools to make reasonable accommodation for religious needs of students in observance of holy days.

In Massachusetts, the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education leaves those decisions to the individual school districts.

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