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Fighting coronavirus: 79 nurseries appeal for reopening in UAE

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on August 26, 2020 | Last updated on August 27, 2020 at 12.22 am
Fighting, coronavirus, 80 nurseries, appeal, reopening, UAE

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Nurseries had been shut since March as part of precautionary measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Around 79 nurseries in the UAE have come together to appeal to the authorities for support and reopening guidance. They said they are ready to comply with all safety measures, if they are given a chance to operate again.

In a petition, the nursery owners stated that as they await reopening orders, 50 to 75 per cent of nursery facilities could close down in the coming month.

Nurseries had been shut since March as part of precautionary measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.

"Whilst we understand the health and safety requirements and the prudent measures taken by the UAE authorities for the safeguarding of all our children and our citizens, and are fully supportive of the same, we have to state that now, without exaggeration, the Nursery Sector in the UAE is about to collapse," nursery owners said in the petition that was written in both Arabic and English.

Their appeal includes being able to reopen next week, along with schools, and a financial aid package that could help them pay rent and salaries.

A top official recently said that the government has been looking into a possible reopening.

Jameela bint Salem Mesbeh Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, said protocols and procedures have been defined for nurseries and childcare centres. The authorities are currently studying the situation and an "appropriate decision" will be taken soon.

Chance to reopen

Zeena Assam, head of Creative Nest Nursery, assured that they are ready and that all they need is "a chance to reopen".

"Everything is open, schools, malls, restaurants so why can't nurseries be opened? We are equally eager to stipulate all safety measures in order to ensure a safe return for our students just as schools are doing."

They argued that with parents now starting to go back to work, nurseries "could be the safe, clean and secure environments" they need for their babies and young children.

Carol Oliveira, manager at Building Blocks Nursery, said: "At our nursery, for instance, we have started preparing a reopening plan and are ready to implement all measures needed to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible care to the youngest of our children while their parents are at work.

"Like all other educational institutions we can guarantee that, with the government's guidelines and support, we will continue to provide the best care and education to our youngest children."

'No income since March'

Nursery owners said they find themselves in a "state of emergency", as they have not had any income since March but are still expected to pay their bills. Some have had to lay off their staff to cut costs.

Fatten El Hajj, owner and principal of Canadian Kids Nursery, said: "There is no solution in sight. There is no income for nurseries, but a lot of parents who had paid their fees in advance are asking for refunds now. Besides, we have to continue paying various fees. In fact, I was even fined for non-payment.

"Without a reopening date, the way forward is very unclear. But we do have a DHA-licensed clinic, a licensed doctor and a licensed nurse. So, if allowed to open, we are ready."

Síog Moore, who runs Little Land Montessori Nursery Dubai, said "having no income since the beginning of March until now is leaving bank accounts empty".

"We will not be able to continue to pay staff salaries and rent for the coming term if we are not allowed to open. All other early childhood venues are otherwise open. We are also ready to open safely and under the guidance of the authorities now," Moore said.

Besides sending a petition to education authorities, the group also launched a social media campaign under the hashtag #saveournurseries.

nandini@khaleejtimes.com 


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