By MAYA MASHEB
The holy month of Ramadan overlapped with finals and Regents exams this year, and therefore posed a challenge for students to balance focusing on finals while fasting for nearly 17 hours a day.
Many studies have shown that hunger can affect one’s concentration. Senior Luqman B. attested to this, saying that it was difficult for him to focus with an empty stomach. He believed that fasting may have affected his test scores when he said, “I don’t like to make up excuses and I believe I did have ample time to study, but the difficulty was a factor so it probably did affect my scores.” Sophomore Hassan R. said that for him the main challenge was the drowsiness and weariness he experienced during the exams. However, he doesn’t feel as though there was any effect on his test scores, saying, “I don’t believe fasting affected my scores due to the fact that I felt blessed because I was fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.”
While many students overcame the struggles and kept the fast during the exams, there are some students who chose not to fast during this week. Sophomore and musician Mahina S. chose not to fast due to other commitments she had, in addition to preparing for exams. “I had major auditions and competitions to prepare for that required 100% of my focus, so my family and I decided that I will not fast this year,” she said.
Conversely, Sophomore Afrah B. believed that all Muslim students should fast, saying, “I always tell people that they’re finals not eating competitions, so I don’t really see why you shouldn’t be fasting.”
In terms of what the school can do in consideration of those who observe Ramadan, Senior Luqman B. mentioned how other conditions can assist fasting test takers. “Pick a day for the test where the weather isn’t so hot and dry, or have those who are fasting take the test in a separate air conditioned room,” he said. Sophomore Afrah B. suggested having all of the finals in the afternoon so that fasting students can sleep later, since typically observers of Ramadan stay up late praying. Sophomore Hassan R. also recommended that the finals be administered at a time when people who are fasting feel most comfortable, preferably after the holy month concludes.
Jericho High School Principal Ms. Rosenberg said that in order for any accommodations to be granted, “First, the students have to make us aware that they are fasting.” Then, she would have to talk with the students and parents and determine the students’ needs.
Since this has only recently become an issue due to shifts in the Muslim calendar, the administration has not yet begun discussing it in depth. However, they plan to convene in time for this year’s testing weeks.