Layal Boumoussa

Retain a Shorter School Day

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Layal Boumoussa
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Dear Mr. Saad,

We hope that this letter finds you all happy and healthy in SABIS. First and foremost, we would like to say thank you to all of you for taking such excellent care of our children over the past year. Of course, you have always done this but it is specially appreciated this year considering the difficulties we’ve all been going through. We also greatly appreciate that you have helped us out this year by changing your times, making the days shorter, which brings us now to the reason for this letter.

We have all—parents and students—benefitted immensely from the shorter days and would like to request that you retain this for the next year, 2022-2023. We have bullet-pointed the reasons below:

  • Our children are healthier. They now have more time for rest, recuperation and extra-curricular sports and activities than they had when they were arriving home at 4.30 p.m. or even 5 p.m on some evenings. The longer days were extremely exhausting for many kids. Our children have a balanced day of education and leisure with the shorter school day whereby they may pursue their outside-school interests. Many of our children now have time to look into their talents which was never accomplishable with a longer school day. Many of us parents have noted on this significant issue when we compare our younger children, who have had the opportunity of the 2 p.m school day, to that of our seniors or SABIS graduates who had to grapple with the longer 3.30 p.m school day for the majority of their SABIS years and therefore missed out on pursuing leisurely interests in sports and arts.
  • More time to appreciate learning. Our children no longer show signs of anxiety while studying after-school. We have noted that when our children are not dreading a long day, they have deeper focus and show more appreciation in their homework. Dr. Maria Karam, the head of the pediatric department at KMC, agrees and has told us “1 in 6 children between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder each year. In response to the rising rates of depression and anxiety in children, primarily due to them being over-scheduled and over-tested, a shorter school day is the first step to taking action in supporting the mental health of our children.” There is a lot of academic work and stress in SABIS and our kids often struggle to find time to study, complete homework and prepare for all their weekly exams. The shorter school day makes it possible for them to do this with much ease and less stress.
  • Sufficient breaks. We have spoken to a lot of staff and kids and it seems that the shorter breaks during the school days have really brought down the number of fights and bullying which can happen at school. Children have not raised complaints of insufficient time for a break at school and returned home with a healthy amount of mingling with friends and eating their snacks/lunch.
  • Extra time for more lessons. Weaker kids have been helped a lot by the shorter days. Some of our kids really struggle with certain subjects and the shorter days give us more time at home to sit with them and help breach those gaps. With the long school day, these students were staying up as late as 10p.m to complete material and receive the additional help they need. This is detrimental to their health.
  • Improvement in family dynamics. The shorter days have given us all more quality family time and have also made it much easier for us to manage our lives re dental appointments, shopping, etc. This is especially helpful in Lebanon where day to day life just keeps getting harder.
  • Safety in an unstable country. The traditional school schedule is out of sync with the economic collapse that we are facing. Desperate times and dire situations will inadvertently affect the safety of our children commuting home at late hours.

Finally, we have gathered signatures from SABIS parents/ teachers who support this petition.

To sum up, again we thank you for all that you have done—and continue to do—for our kids during these difficult and trying times in Lebanon. Our loyalty for SABIS is undeniable and we have faith that, in this new wave of change, you will work with us to better the lives, but mainly the mental health of your students, our children, your staff and parents. We are very pleased and content with the new timings ending the school days at 2 p.m. and would like to see this retained for next year for the reasons pointed above.

Thank you for reading this letter. We hope we can all come to a satisfactory agreement and compromise. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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