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City schools to observe lunar new year holiday, de Blasio says

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the Shabazz

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the Shabazz Memorial and Education Center in Manhattan on Sunday, June 21, 2015. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

New York City's public schools will close from now on for the lunar new year, Mayor Bill de Blasio's office said Monday.

The announcement is the second time this year the mayor has added a new day off to the academic calendar. In March, he added Islam's two holiest days -- Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha -- the first religious additions to the academic calendar since the Jewish High Holy Days in 1960.

Asian groups had intensified lobbying efforts after the Islam addition. About 75,000 of the city's 1.1 million public-school students whose families come from nations that celebrate the lunar new year, including Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Korea, Mongolia and Tibet, according to de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell.

"Working toward a more inclusive city," the mayor tweeted Monday night in English, Mandarin and Korean.

The holiday will be celebrated in the schools beginning Feb. 8, 2016. The date changes year to year.

The City Council had passed a nonbinding resolution urging the new recognition, and lawmakers in Albany were on the verge of mandating the day off.

"Finally, students of Asian descent will not be forced to choose between observing the most important holiday of the year and missing important academic work," said Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan), who has backed the effort.

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