Dubai schools gear up to reopen on Sunday

Dubai - The emirate's education regulator on Monday released a 114-point protocol list ahead of school reopening.


Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 24 Aug 2021, 5:57 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Aug 2021, 6:00 PM

Schools in Dubai are getting ready to reopen on Sunday, August 29, displaying utmost responsibility to respect the protocols underlined by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

The emirate's education regulator on Monday released a set of 114-point protocols ahead of school reopening.

Lisa Johnson, principal of American Academy for Girls, said: "We will still be following most of the protocols established last year. The social distancing requirement is reduced a bit from 1.5m to 1m, which will allow students to be in class with more of their classmates. We will continue to follow strict sanitising protocols that include masks for all students above Grade 6. Taaleem has a company level Covid response team and each school has a similar team that is available around the clock to monitor and manage safety protocol.”

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She added: “While we are pleased with the lighter guidelines for students, we will continue to limit outside guests as per the KHDA recommendations. Our back-to-school ‘meet the teacher’ event will still be conducted online. This practice has actually increased parent involvement in many classes as working parents are able to more easily join it.”

Elmarie Venter, chief operations officer at GEMS Education, pointed out: “GEMS Education has always put the health, safety and wellbeing of our students as our top priority and we have prepared accordingly to ensure that all our schools strictly follow national guidelines. We warmly welcome KHDA’s latest guidance which is in line with the way our national leadership has so effectively handled the pandemic. Our parents’ reaction to the KHDA’s announcement has already been overwhelmingly positive too. We are so excited to welcome our 120,000+ students back for face-to-face learning during the new academic term starting on Sunday.”

More than a million students across the UAE will start the new term/academic year on Sunday, with the number of onsite learners looking promising after the summer break.

This follows the announcement that all private schools in Dubai must end distance learning on October 3.

Buses to operate at 100% capacity

Meanwhile, the bus capacity has been increased to 100 per cent bringing relief to working parents, who will not have to worry about their child’s transport to school now.

The KHDA rulings stipulate that bus hygiene should be maintained by following the appropriate sanitisation and physical distancing standards.

Anyone entering the bus should undergo temperature screening and a person with a temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius would not be allowed to board it.

Seat belts, arm rests, handles and rails should be sanitised after each use, in accordance with Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) relevant guidelines for public transportation.

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Steve Burnell, managing director of school transport services, underlined: “The increasing number of students returning to the school has a positive impact on the student experience, supports our environmental initiatives and reduces traffic congestion. It remains fundamentally important that we observe and manage the robust health and safety measures in relation to sanitising our fleet and the close monitoring of all students and our employees.

“We have ensured that 100 per cent of our drivers and bus guardians have received the vaccination and have an employee welfare programme that focuses on their health and support requirements. Our smart bus technology ensures that we can monitor and track students when they are on board our vehicles and this, in turn, provides a high level of assurance to parents and schools,” added Burnell.

If possible, each student should be given a designated and pre-assigned seat.

Punit MK Vasu, CEO of The Indian High Group of Schools, said: “Schools can now plan their capacity and it comes as a massive relief to community school operators, such as our group, for being able to operate buses at full capacity. This will be especially helpful for working parents as they would now be able to use the safe and secure school transport for their kids. We welcome these new protocols which will gradually help all of us ease back to face-to-face learning and the ‘right’ normal.”

Field trips a welcome news

Meanwhile, institution heads are excited that school assemblies, extra-curricular activities, break and lunchtimes, visits to the school library, school trips are again permissible in-person.

Annie Mathew, principal of Gulf Model School, Dubai, said: “It is welcome news that outings and excursions are now permitted. It means that our students will get to visit the Expo on school tours. This will be once in a lifetime experience for the students of all ages and they will get to learn exponentially in different areas. We look forward to the same.”

Reiterating similar sentiments, Alan Williamson, CEO of Taaleem, said: “We welcome the news that students will be allowed to participate in field trips; Expo 2020, of course, is at the top of everyone’s list.”

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