Dubai: The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has instructed all private schools in Dubai to shorten school timings to five hours during Ramadan, which begins in the second week of June.

Mohammad Darwish, Chief of Regulations and Permits Commission (RPC) at KHDA, said: “Schools should ensure that the total hours for students do not exceed five hours’ duration per day. The school day during Ramadan will start between 8am and 8.30am and finish between 1pm and 1.30am with shorter breaks as required.”

The decision to reduce school hours has been taken in consultation with parents and principals, to ensure Muslim students are fully supported to meet their academic expectations while fasting, KHDA said.

“The month of Ramadan is an extremely important and significant time of the year for Muslims. It is the month of pious observance where values and cultural traditions play an important part. KHDA is inviting all private schools in Dubai to celebrate the significance of this month with all their students, shedding light on its meaning and expectations,” Darwish added.

Schools have also been instructed to exempt fasting students from physical exercise (PE) classes or any other demanding physical activities. Additionally, fasting students are prohibited from exposure to heat to avoid the risk of exhaustion and dehydration.

Also, eating and drinking in the school will be limited to private designated areas only, out of respect for Ramadan and fasting students, staff and parents.

Many schools will close from mid-June to late August for the annual summer break.

Meanwhile, the majority of schools in Abu Dhabi will hold classes till June 23, as specified by the Ministry of Education. Many schools also have exams scheduled around the time.

The Model School Abu Dhabi, which offers the Indian curriculum to about 5,000 pupils, has exams starting from the second week of June, principal Dr V.V. Abdulkader told Gulf News.

“The working day will, of course, be shorter in Ramadan, and we have reduced the exam time from three to two hours,” he said.

Another Indian curriculum school, Bright Riders, which has more than 3,500 pupils, will also remain open till June 23.

“We have a system of ongoing assessments, so there are no scheduled exams. School will close at 11.30am for the kindergarten pupils, and at 1pm for everyone else,” said principal Dr Rishikesh Pedagaonkar.

Meanwhile, The International Community School, a mixed-curriculum facility, will operate till June 23, and exams will continue till June 16.

“During the last week before the summer vacations, we will have make-up exams,” said Derek Griffin, the school’s principal.

With approval from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), a few schools will however remain open even longer.

“We have exams at the end of May, but classes will be held until June 30. While we do expect attendance to drop somewhat when Ramadan starts, our teachers will do everything to engage pupils during the holy month and maintain attendance rates,” said Paul Abraham, principal at Virginia Private School, an American curriculum school.

Schools are set to reopen after the summer break on August 28, as recommended by the ministry.