After a year of discussion, the Eugene 4J school board unanimously approved the expansion of its religious observances policy during its Oct. 21 board meeting.
The update comes after many families have advocated for the policy change, as students have had to make the difficult choice between participating in school events or religious holidays.
According to the district, 4J’s policy previously excused students who missed classes on religious holidays and allowed them to make up course work and tests at another time without penalty. Now, except in limited circumstances, schools are prohibited from scheduling important events that can’t be made up, on holy days. These events include a school open house or Outdoor School.
When setting dates for other special events—such as field trips, tryouts and concerts—school staff are required to consider religious holidays. Students and parents must be informed of events in advance so conflicts can be avoided if possible, or students can be accommodated. Administrator approval is required to schedule a field trip or an important co-curricular or extra-curricular activity on a major religious holiday.
If a student misses an assignment, test, quiz or final exam review due to a major religious holiday, teachers must provide a meaningful opportunity and reasonable timeframe for students to make up the missed work. Teachers cannot require the make-up opportunity to be due on the next school day.
The board must consider possible conflicts with major religious holidays on final exam days when they adopt the academic calendar each year. The district said they will prepare a list of major religious holidays, which will be shared with staff and posted on the 4J website.