New ministry guideline options

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Photographer: Claire R.

A class in session in the Social Studies wing during hybrid.

Aditri P., Reporter

November 1st was the date the new ministry of education and higher education (MOEHE) guideline was placed into effect, “students of public and private schools/preschools will attend in-person classes at schools on a rotational basis. The choice between in-person attendance and distance learning will be abolished.”

Through the tracking of current pandemic trends and weighing of educational benefit vs public health interests, the MOEHE enacted this decision with students’ wellbeing and educational interests in mind. The low number of school community COVID-19 transmissions led the ministry to implement these new guidelines while keeping the old directions regarding keeping masks on for utmost precaution. However, there are exceptions for “students who suffer chronic diseases as supported by an approved medical report” to continue with distance learning classes. This extends to close family members with these conditions who are at high risk. It is important to note these exemptions can only be granted by the ministry itself, not by the school system.

Many students have said zoom has hindered their learning experience to some extent, especially due to connection and wifi problems. Some specific and recurring issues cited were wifi glitches on tests, lectures, and presentations, and also getting kicked out of class. One student said, “it was hard to schedule times to ask teachers for help and I feel that some of my coursework assigned was just work to keep us busy when it didn’t connect to anything. It was and still is very hard for me to have full 90 min zooms on certain days for all 4 of my classes.”

L. Mathew (‘22) also believes, “I definitely studied better at school because when I was actually learning in person, I just retained information better and was able to ask questions easier. I don’t think my educational experience improved during Covid-19, while we were learning online. Hopefully, it’ll get better now that I’m going to class more often, but it’s still pretty early to tell.” 

However, some students also believe they work better at home. One 12th grader said, “I think at home I studied better because if I finished my work assigned early in the class period then I am able to do any other work during that class whereas with some teachers when you finish they just keep assigning tasks.”

Returning students feel mixed about coming back to school. L. Mathew (‘24) says “It was honestly really great being back at school and being able to talk to my classmates in real life and it was actually way easier to talk to people in real life than it ever was on zoom.” Other students feel more tired, relieved, or refreshed with this change of environment.

Some students also mention safety concerns. While most believe the school implements many effective safety measures like–wipes, sanitizer stations, closing water fountains, encouraging complete mask use, and limiting student time on campus–there are some concerns regarding the timing of the ministry’s decision. One student said “there is no vaccine out yet in Qatar and it is very stressful to go back to school and worry about grades AND not catching corona. I think parents should have the power to choose if their children should stay at home or not because different families have different health risks. I understand that there is a medical exemption families can get but there is already lots of stress and you have to show personal medical records so it should be made optional.”

Other students like D. Mohamed (‘22) claim they “feel unsafe” at school, as there are “many students who leave the house without their masks and come to school.” 

Therefore, students also feel mixed about the timing of the ministry’s decision to mandate students to return. While many agree and believe it is the right time to make that choice and balance education and safety, some believe that “[parents] should be able to choose if their children should stay at home. The ministry should only be able to encourage and voice its support for children returning to school.” Another student says “[there] could be personal reasons that families shouldn’t have to plead to the government for. It should be a family’s choice whether their children should go to school or not.” 

Teachers also have mixed feelings, noting the value added to learning but also the struggles of the student and family in making that decision. However, they note ASD’s high success at keeping community transmission to a minimum and the extensive health regulations put forward by the ministry the school implemented. 

Regardless of its benefits, many students also feel a pang of annoyance with the new school policies. A few common culprits are the hallway signs and the “flow” which often causes students to tirelessly walk in circles, the missed social opportunities associated with assigned seating, distance learners and rotational attendance, and finally the monotonous routine of wiping down desks before and after use.

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