Airport closures cause drop in school attendance

Attendance is down at international schools as teachers and pupils remain stranded by the plume of volcanic ash that has closed airports across Europe.

ABU DHABI // Attendance was down at international schools across the country today as teachers and pupils remained stranded by the plume of volcanic ash that has closed airports across Europe. Paul Coakley, the principal of the British School-Al Khubairat, said roughly 10 of his 140 staff were stuck. "It's not a huge number but it's not insignificant either," he said. "At the moment it's like having a lot of people off for illness. I don't think it's an issue in the short term particularly, there are ways around these things. "We are probably not going to see people this week, that what we're thinking. If it goes on past that, then it does get a little bit more difficult because you've got your specialist staff away. The longer it goes on the more significant it becomes." Roughly 20 per cent of the staff at the Dubai English Speaking College were off work yesterday, leading the school to double up classes. "I would expect this to continue for the rest of the week," said Peter Daly, the head teacher, adding that it would have been worse had it happened over the Christmas break because more families tend to go home then. "I had the same numbers for first day of term as I normally would have," Mr Daly said. "They don't tend to go back for Easter." Mr Daly himself is teaching classes this week as part of the schools plan to deal with absent teachers. "We have to do the best we can," he said. Not every international school was affected, though. Business continued as usual Sunday at the Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.