A strong contingent of AAFE staff and supporters was on hand to witness Mayor Bill de Blasio announce that, as of 2015-2016 school year, Lunar New Year would be added to the New York City public school calendar.

“We pledged to families we would keep working until we made Lunar New Year an official school holiday, and today we are keeping that promise,” de Blasio, speaking at a press conference held in Flushing, Queens, said. “We are proud to be the largest school district in the nation to recognize the heritage of our Asian-American community by recognizing Lunar New Year.”

AAFE staff were present for the historic announcement

AAFE’s Executive Director, Christopher Kui, welcomed the legislation. “Lunar New Year is a cherished holiday for the Asian community: A time for loved ones to come together, and a time to celebrate our cultural heritage,” he said.

“The de Blasio administration’s decision to recognize this day as a school holiday is incredibly important to Asian Americans as it acknowledges that our community, and its customs, are accepted as part of the American fabric. Asian Americans for Equality is delighted that, next year, families across New York will be able to spend this sacred day together.”

Asian-American students comprise approximately 15 percent of all public school students in New York City

The move comes in the wake of a signed letter sent in March by a coalition of City Council members, Congressional representatives, and state Legislators signed on to a letter addressed to de Blasio, reminding him of his campaign pledge to be inclusive.

“Asian-American students comprise approximately 15 percent of all public school students — more than 150,000 students — in New York City, and Lunar New Year is the most important cultural celebration on the Asian calendar. At schools in neighborhoods across the city, absentee rates have been reported to be as high as 80 percent on Lunar New Year.

“Parents should not have to choose between sending their kids to school or celebrating their most important cultural holiday with family. In addition, schools should not be open when large numbers of students will be absent and a school day could result in a waste of educational time and resources,” they wrote.

The next Lunar New Year is Monday, February 8.

To view more pictures from the announcement, click here.