Ramadan and School Schedules:

Survey Results from 63 School Leaders

With Ramadan creeping into the end of the school year, questions about how Islamic schools are accommodating or modifying their daily schedules come into many educators’ minds.

Mohamed Salah Ahmed, Head of School of Al Salam Day School in Manchester, MO asked his fellow Islamic school leaders to answer a survey to find out just how many schools are making modifications.

With 63 respondents, his survey showed that the majority of Islamic schools in the US will be adjusting their school schedule during Ramadan. Over three quarters, in fact, indicated that there would be some changes to their school schedule.
Ramadan Schedule Survey Results
The majority, almost 48%, of Islamic schools will start their school one or two hours late, while approximately 30% will provide a one or two hour early release. Schedule Changes Survey ResultsAlong with the survey, many members of our online community shared their rationale for modifying the school schedule (or not).

Reasons for Not Adjusting

Some reasons for not adjusting the schedule are based on pragmatics. Muniba Ali, Principal of a newly established full-time Islamic school in Naperville, succinctly shared why her school was not adjusting its schedule:
Our students are ages 3 to 6, thus we do not need to accommodate them for exams, P.E., etc., since they will not be fasting. A change in school schedule might also create some inconvenience for working parents whose work schedules will remain the same. Kindergartenrrs get bus service from our public school district, and those timings could not change.
Others have a different approach, including the argument that fasting does not mean we should do less. Principal Omar Chatila explained why he does not adjust the schedule at Al-Furqan Academy (FL).
In summary, he stated that class time that is lost due to shortening the school day will be difficult to make up. Additionally, not adjusting schedules during Ramadan would help students better prepare for the future since in college and at work, there is no such adjustment. Furthermore, it will help them follow the sunnah of continuing a productive schedule throughout Ramadan and waking up for suhur to nourish them throughout the day.
Finally, Br. Omar pointed out that

We have to break out of the mindset that we do less in Ramadan with the excuse that we are fasting. Ramadan is not the month of laziness, but rather the month of exerting ourselves and doing more good deeds, more work, be more productive, and accomplish more! If we get our students used to doing less in Ramadan, they will expect that for the rest of their lives.

Reasons for Adjusting

Those that explained why they do adjust their schedules highlighted their effort to make it easier to participate in tarawih, particularly during the summer months when Isha is so late.

Sister Samina Ahmad, Principal of Al Furqan Academy, this one in Norcross, GA, shared why her school adjusts their Ramadan schedule, stressing that with their emphasis on attending tarawih and prayer in the masjid, it helps to have the schedule changed. She also stated,
We accommodate for Ramadan by starting the school year early. We have already completed our curriculum and standardized testing. Last year we were able to end our school year by May 15th, a day before ramadan started. This year we  have 2 weeks of Ramadan before school ends. I have seen the adjusted school schedule working very well 20 years ago when Ramadan was in the school year.

Adjusting without changing start/end times

Another school principal explained that although their school did not start later or dismiss early, they still made some modifications to the upper level grades to help students. Dr. Nabila Gomaa of Toledo Islamic Academy shared:
At Toledo Islamic Academy we do not dismiss early or have a late start.  We shorten classes for middle and high school students so they have time in the middle and the end of the day to finish any homework or to study for a test or to read Quran. Parents in the past shared concern with me that when students go home they are tired and they go to sleep until Iftar– So students do not have time to do any school work at home during Ramadan.
Also, it is inconvenient for the working parents to change the schedule. As for the teachers, they are free to go home immediately after students are gone.  With the Maghrib time being late we can do that but may be when Maghrib time becomes much earlier we can think of some other alternative.
Like always, the conversations on ISLA’s email discussion group known as the IECN has been fascinating, especially pertaining to this topic! We learn so much from each other and are grateful for the respectful exchange of ideas that occurs on this platform! Thank you all for your contributions!

©2019 Islamic Schools League of America

info@theisla.org | PO Box 6198, Round Rock, TX 78663

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