Some parents in Qatar are still unsure about sending their children to school tomorrow morning, after the Supreme Education Council extended Eid break by a day.
Most of Qatar’s schools were originally scheduled to return to school tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 20. But because Qatar announced last week that government employees would not be scheduled to return to work until Monday, Oct. 21, the SEC extended the break. The extra day off appears to apply to both government-run independent schools and Qatar’s many private schools.
Notification of the SEC’s decision came fairly late, and Doha News has learned that some schools appealed to the SEC to allow them to remain open.
One British school sent this letter to parents early this week:
“We have attempted to gain information from the SEC as to whether we will have to close. Unfortunately, the information has not been forthcoming, leaving us with the dilemma of either taking the decision to close or to plan to remain open, with the likely possibility that we will be instructed to close on the date. The issue is that in all likelihood we will receive a directive from the SEC towards the end of the week. This does not give families sufficient time to plan and make alternative arrangements.”
Parents of children attending several international schools in Doha said information about the change has been sparse.
Some schools, including ACS and Newton British, notified parents before half term, soon after the Eid Al-Adha holiday had been declared. Others, like Doha College and DESS, chose to wait a while to pursue clarification, and notified parents early this week.
Still other schools, including Doha British School, waited until Wednesday of this week, and some, including ASD (American School of Doha) have chosen not to observe the ruling altogether, and will open school tomorrow as normal.
Notably, many nurseries and universities at Education City are also open tomorrow. Furthermore, some parents told us they had not yet heard from their schools at all.
The uncertainty over when school starts has caused some families to change their holiday plans. Several parents have said they have to take the day off work, as the private sector Eid holiday in Qatar lasts only three days.
Speaking to Doha News, British expat Clare Sutton said:
“Such late notice is a real pain. Had I known before I could have swapped my Eid holiday for Sunday and my husband could have looked after my daughter, but now a friend will have to look after her instead.”
Further date changes
This year, the SEC has been working to unify school schedules across the country, sparking widespread confusion in September when students came back from summer vacation.
The council previously explained that the decision was made following complaints from parents about coordinating family vacations across varying school calendars.
The SEC apparently is keen to unify school terms more broadly, possibly requiring international schools to adhere to the government-run schools’ February break, which is two weeks long – one week longer than the traditional Spring Break scheduled by many international private schools.
It appears however that “community” schools – those related to their country’s embassy – will be unaffected by this decision. Doha College Head Mark Leppard reassured parents in a letter sent at the beginning of this month:
“Both Andy Yeoman, Headteacher at DESS and myself have met with Mr Hamad Al-Marri the Private Schools Director at the SEC and he has assured us, that as community schools, sponsored by the British Embassy, we do not have to follow these requirements.
This is particularly important as we have some UK examinations and tests that would clash with the proposed SEC dates. As such both Doha College and DESS term dates will remain unchanged.”
It remains to be seen whether other schools following international curriculums will be required to change their February half-term dates on short notice.
Credit: Photo by Nick Amoscato