Leaky roofs, late arrivals: How UAE rains impacted school operations

While cleaners at some campuses worked all night to ensure classrooms were dry, extra staff were brought in at others to ensure students' safety


Sahim Salim

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Photo: M Sajjad
Photo: M Sajjad

Published: Thu 26 Jan 2023, 2:56 PM

Last updated: Thu 26 Jan 2023, 5:02 PM

From leaky roofs being repaired in record time to some students missing class and others arriving late — schools in the UAE worked double-time on Thursday to ensure that the heavy rains did not affect learning.

Unstable weather conditions continued for the second day straight, with water ponds resulting in road closures and traffic jams.

Lisa Johnson, ​principal, American Academy for Girls, a Taaleem school, said the school community welcomed the rain, but it posed some challenges.

“Our biggest concerns have been from a facility standpoint. Leaks and drainage problems that are typically minor have become major issues in these conditions. We started our day with dripping water in several classrooms; but thankfully we were able to repair and clean up before students arrived. We had to also pay careful attention to safety issues such as wet floors and play areas that normally would not be a concern,” she told Khaleej Times.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Attendance was fairly normal, but the school registered a “slight increase” in absentees.

She said some teachers had to leave for work at 5am to make it on time. “Students arrived a bit later, but the punctuality rates did not hinder our daily schedule. I sent messages to staff and parents indicating that safety, not punctuality, was the priority.”

Considering the impact of the weather, she was “quite proud” of the determination of the school community.

Rob Commons, Principal, Uptown International, said students were kept indoors at break- and lunch-time. “While there has been some minor localised flooding in our outdoor areas, our cleaning team have worked throughout the night to ensure the buildings and classrooms remain safe and dry.

“We’ve adjusted some of our usual pedestrian routes inside the school grounds, and ensured that extra staff are on duty throughout the day to keep everyone safe, particularly at drop-off and pick-up times.”

The school registered a “higher than usual” number of late arrivals this morning due to the traffic conditions. “Students who arrived late (after registration) were directed to their normal lessons, and while we kept a log of their lateness for health and safety reasons, this will not be reflected on any of their report cards.

“Our school buses left the depot a few minutes early today as a precaution, but arrived at all of their collection points on time. They arrived at school around 15 minutes late, but this was due to unusual traffic build up on the main road approaching our school, which caused excessive queuing,” added Commons.

Campbell Douglas, principal/CEO, Gems Wellington Academy - Al Khail, said they saw some “minor” surface flooding in the bus drop-off areas. They used pumps to quickly clear the water before the school buses arrived. “There was also some surface flooding in one of our staff carparks, but this has been cleared as well. Of course, drop-off took slightly longer than usual due to the need to be extra careful on the roads, but the delay was only about 10 minutes.”

Douglas added that the school is flexible when it comes to late arrivals caused by rains. “Our main concern is that everyone travels to school in a safe manner, and if that means taking longer than usual to get here, then we fully support that.”

In Abu Dhabi, the United Indian School had to reschedule the Indian Republic Day activities. “We had planned an Indian state-wise cultural demonstration in the form of a tableau parade but have had to postpone the programme,” said K George Mathew, principal/CEO, of the school.

Other than this, school operations remained largely unaffected.


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