Religious Observance 2018
Religious Observances 2019 which may impact on university activities
This is to advise of the dates of various key religious festivals which are likely to be observed by both staff and students in the course of this calendar year. As always, this is not meant to be an exhaustive or complete list of all religious activities, but it concentrates on those where religious obligations may have an impact on aspects of our life and activities together.
The agreed policy is that any requests from students to be absent during term-time for necessary religious observance should be considered by Departments/Faculties as they arise, although the position is that the university is happy to consider such requests for absence for religious reasons as long as they are made sufficiently in advance, and appropriate alternative arrangements should be made to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by their religious observance (see the Timetable Policy at https://www.kcl.ac.uk/governancezone/Assets/Teaching/Timetable-Policy.pdf). Staff members are advised to inform their line managers as soon as possible in advance if they are likely to need leave for religious reasons at any point in the year.
The Jewish festival of Purim begins at sunset on Wednesday 20 March and ends at nightfall on Thursday 21 March. Work and travel should be avoided during this time, so Jewish staff and students may need to leave a little earlier than usual on the Wednesday, and may also ask for leave on the Thursday.
The Jewish festival of Passover begins at sunset on Friday 19 April and ends at nightfall on Saturday 27 April (although this festival lasts for just over a week, the first two days and the last two days are the most important, when work and travel must be avoided). Since the beginning of Passover coincides with the long bank holiday weekend – which this year is at the very end of the vacation, as Easter is almost as late as it can be – the impact may be less than might otherwise be the case. However, the full period of Passover also covers the revision week at the start of the summer term, so staff and those students who are affected may ask for leave for some or all of Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 April.
It is also worth noting that Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter a week later than other Christians, on Sunday 28 April, so some people may wish to take leave on Friday 26 April.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will begin on or around Sunday 5 May and will last until around Tuesday 4 June when the feast of Eid al-Fitr is marked (both dates are dependent on the sighting of the moon, hence the slight uncertainty). Since fasting during the long summer hours of daylight can lead to fainting, staff who are invigilating exams during this period should be particularly aware of Muslim students in case they get into physical difficulties, and students on clinical placements may also need support to ensure that they can meet their clinical learning and assessment requirements whilst maintaining their religious observances.
The Jewish festival of Shavuot begins at sunset on Saturday 8 June and ends at nightfall on Monday 10 June. Once again, work and travel must be avoided, so people may wish to request leave during this time, if relevant. This festival falls outside the main exam period, but if there should be a clash with a scheduled exam, or with teaching (for instance for the Medical or Dental Faculties), such clashes should be advised to Faculties/Departments and the Examinations Office as soon as possible, and advice sought from the Dean’s Office (who work closely with the Rabbi to the London Universities).
The Jewish New Year festival (Rosh Hashanah) begins at sunset on Sunday 29 September and ends at nightfall on Tuesday 1 October. As before, work and travel must be avoided, so people may request leave during this time. Since this and the next few festivals occur during the first teaching weeks of the new academic year, obviously it will be difficult for new students to make such requests in advance if the need for absence is in their first few weeks at King’s, so some flexibility and understanding will be required.
The most solemn festival of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, runs from sunset on Tuesday 8 Octber until nightfall the following day, and is then followed by the linked festivals of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, which begin at sunset on Sunday 13 October and end at nightfall on Tuesday 22 October (as with Passover earlier in the year, the first two days and the last two days are the most important). People may therefore need to leave a little earlier than usual on 8 October, and may also ask for time off for some or all of 9 October and 14 to 22 October.
When the new academic year starts in September, it will be helpful to remember that new students may not, at the very start of term, have found the Muslim Prayer Rooms on the different College campuses. As a reminder, these are Strand Building room S-1.03, on the first floor of the Franklin Wilkins Building at Waterloo, in the first basement of the Hodgkin Building at Guy’s, and room W1.07 in the Main Building of the IoPPN at Denmark Hill. Prayer times are spread throughout the day, with the most important prayer time being Friday lunchtime; it is always appreciated if Muslim staff and students can be permitted to go to pray when required, although it is good practice to make it clear to students that it is expected that they should request permission for this first, rather than just getting up and walking out at the relevant time.
Finally, all staff and students are – as always – very welcome to the Opening of Year Services in the College’s two Chapels. The service at the Strand is on Wednesday 25 September at 1.10pm, and that at Guy’s is on Thursday 26 September at 5.30pm.
If there are any queries or problems, please contact either the Dean’s Office or one of the Chaplains, and we will do our best to help. As mentioned, this is not a comprehensive list (there are, of course, many other festivals of different faiths across the year), but also as mentioned it tries to focus on those festivals where religious obligations may particularly impact upon exams at the end of one academic year, and attendance for registration and the start of teaching at the start of the next.
14 January 2019