Rahmatullah Dem, a student at Hopkins High School, had been fasting every day for a month in observance of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting season.

Soon it would be Eid al-Fitr, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

That year, Eid had arrived in early June, and finals were approaching.

Although Eid al-Fitr marked one of the most important days of the year for her faith, it was just another school day in Hopkins.

"I was fasting and I was going to my mosque, so I was really, really tired," Dem said. "I was still going to school, but it was difficult for me to even be able to keep on top of my classes, much less prepare to miss a day."

That difficult juggling act is about to end. Starting next year, Muslim students in Hopkins can celebrate Eid without worrying about missing classes. On Jan. 18, the Hopkins school board approved a school calendar that adds new holidays — Eid and the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The same day, the Mankato school board passed a similar calendar change, approving holidays for Eid and Indigenous People's Day. On Feb. 8, Minneapolis Public Schools also adopted a calendar that for the first time includes Eid and the Jewish high holy days. The new calendars take effect in the 2022-2023 school year.

Moorhead Area Public Schools changed its calendars last year: The district will not hold classes May 2 and 3, allowing students time to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

The changes mark the first time any Minnesota school district has added Eid to the school calendar.

Siad Ali, a Minneapolis school board member, called the new calendar a "huge win."

"We want our children to celebrate with us without feeling that they're missing their classroom or they're missing their schoolwork," he said. "This is a joyful moment."

The moves in Minneapolis, Hopkins, Moorhead and Mankato follow actions in districts across the country. New York City added Eid to the school calendar in 2015; a handful of districts in New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Michigan followed suit. Minnesota charter schools with large Muslim populations have long scheduled classes around Eid.

Abdisalam Adam, a community leader who holds many roles — Cedar-Riverside imam, St. Paul assistant principal and Fridley school board member — said the change was a long time coming.

In Hopkins, the idea for a more inclusive calendar came from students, said Jen Westmoreland Bouchard, the school board chair. Two years ago, Muslim and Jewish student representatives proposed including their holidays on the school calendar.

Oscar Wolfe, a student school board representative in Hopkins, said at the Jan. 18 board meeting that neither his parents nor grandparents had expected to see Jewish holidays honored on school calendars in their lifetimes.

"The high holidays are supposed to be a time of reflection, time with family," he told the school board. "But what they became was an annual reminder that we were different, that we were somehow not a part of what everyone else was a part of."

For Sharon El-Amin, a Minneapolis school board member who championed the calendar change, Eid is always a major family celebration. Yet as her children grew older, it became harder to balance Eid and school. They worried about missing a test or a basketball game. And they didn't want to have to explain their religious identity to their teachers and classmates. Sometimes they went to prayers in the morning before heading back to school.

Since Minneapolis passed its new calendar, she's heard "a lot of alhamdulillah," she said — an Arabic phrase for "praise be to God."

Adam said problems with holding school during Eid are not new. Even if schools excuse student absences, parents sometimes have to call the school on Eid to announce the student's absence, or send a note to school the next day. Some schools schedule tests or field trips on the day many students will be absent. And that has an impact on students, he said.

"On the one hand, we're telling them there's multiculturalism and diversity," he said. "At the same time, they're not being seen for such a big occasion as their Eid celebrations and holidays. There's a contradiction there."

In Mankato the change to the school calendar came out of a process to update the district's mission and vision statements to focus more on inclusivity and cultural diversity, said Stacy Wells, communications director for Mankato Area Public Schools. She described the move as "small, but not insignificant."

Some community members have praised the calendar move. But a "small but noisy" minority has characterized it as "divisive," she said.

"Across the state, our more rural areas and more outstate areas are also grappling with changing diversity," she said. "Our schools see the change before anything else in a community does."

This story comes to you from Sahan Journal, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to covering Minnesota's immigrants and communities of color. Sign up for its free newsletter to receive stories in your inbox.