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Dubai schools welcome 'practical' KHDA protocol to deal with Covid-postive cases

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on October 6, 2020 | Last updated on October 6, 2020 at 07.13 am
Coronavirus, Dubai schools, KHDA protocol, Covid cases, UAE

(KT file photo)

All stakeholders are receptive to adapt to situations where someone is tested positive for Covid-19 or if someone is considered a "close contact".

Schools in Dubai are adhering to the seven-step protocol issued by the emirate's education regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in casea student or staff member tests positive for Covid-19, within the campus.

All stakeholders are receptive to adapt to situations where someone is tested positive for Covid-19 or if someone is considered a "close contact".

The steps are practical and easy to understand, said Brendon Fulton, principal of Dubai British School - Jumeirah Park. "The process has been welcome by our schools and it gives parents a sense of confidence that the school regulator has things under control. The steps are logical and we have been able to implement them fully when required. Our community has been hugely supportive."

Teachers and staff are able to ease into and back out of online learning at short notice, he added. "While it may be disappointing for a child to hear that they need to stay at home due to being considered a close contact, families appreciate the above-and-beyond measures that allow us to keep everyone safe," added Fulton.

Sequential task for contact tracing

The schools have to complete an intricate and sequential task by contacting the affected person or relatives, collecting information related to their Covid-19 details, filling up extensive data and sending it to the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the KHDA for approval.

Mohammad Ali Kottakkulam, principal of Gulf Indian High School - Dubai said: "We have to trace contacts and update the DHA and the KHDA. Once approved by them, we have to send strict guidelines about the period of quarantine to the affected individuals or their parents in case students are affected."

The process begins when someone tests positive for Covid-19, Dr Aishah Siddiqua, school improvement partner - consultant at Dubai National School. "Those with whom the infected person has had close contact are identified and notified about a period of quarantine - until they develop symptoms, pass the window of risk or are proven not to have been exposed. In a world where herd immunity and a vaccine are still far off, this contact-tracing programme is an important tool for enabling Dubai to continue being a reopen society," she said.

Sangita Chima, Amity School Dubai Principal said the mitigation strategy is logical, definitive and precise. "Most importantly, it clearly defines the role of the patient, the close contacts, parents, the school, DHA and KHDA - it is a collaborative approach to protect students, staff and families."

David Cook, headmaster of Repton School - Dubai, added: "KHDA's 'seven-step process' provides clear and helpful guidance on the actions that schools must take and they help schools to ensure that nothing from a health and safety perspective is missed. Parents, pupils and staff recognize the importance of contact tracing and we have enjoyed full cooperation from all the Repton community, whenever the authorities initiate a contact tracing process."

While school staff have already been trained to deal with a potential Covid-positive case, guardians are a bit sceptical, said Punit MK Vasu, CEO - The Indian High Group of Schools. "Many of our leaders and staff have received robust training on contact tracing from a reputed American university and understand well on handling the situation. They are prompt in reporting themselves and others as contacts. The parents, in most cases, are a little guarded and some need to be persuaded to share details of likely close contacts," he said.

7-step protocol for schools if a student or staff tests positive

>Everyone stays calm

>School leaders call Dubai Health Authority (DHA)

>The DHA and the school carry out contact tracing to identify close contacts

>The school notifies parents of all close contacts

>All close contacts quarantine for 14 days, with access to distance learning

>The school is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized using a government-approved company

>Dubai Government authorities investigate and recommend whether classes should temporarily switch to distance learning

nandini@khaleejtimes.com 





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