UAE Covid vaccine: Schools set to welcome 100% students from September

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Dubai - Optimism grows after students in the 12-15-year age group allowed to take the Covid-19 jab

By Syed Ayaz Basha

Published: Thu 20 May 2021, 4:17 PM

Last updated: Thu 20 May 2021, 4:22 PM

Many schools in the UAE are welcoming their pupils to attend in-classroom teaching in the new academic term.

The schools are expecting near 100 per cent physical attendance from the next academic term as Covid-19 vaccination has been approved for pupils in the age category of 12 to 15 years.

Last week, the UAE had approved administering Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged between 12 and 15 years.

And Gems Education on Wednesday announced that students aged 12 and above can book vaccine appointments via its schools.

A couple of days back, a top official had said that vaccination shots would facilitated a “gradual return” of students to schools during the next academic year.

And school heads in the UAE agreed.

“We’re hopeful of being able to cater to close to 100 per cent of our pupils’ strength in the coming academic term that begins in September after the summer vacation,” said Antony Koshy, principal, Global Indian International School, Dubai.

“Each positive development in the fight against Covid-19 is increasing the confidence among our pupils, parents and teachers. Our parents are grateful to the UAE authorities for the opportunity to get their children vaccinated,” said Elmarie Venter, chief operations and marketing officer, GEMS Education.

Schools started welcoming pupils last year on the back of robust Covid-19 precautionary measures in a bid to ensure strict public health safety norms are complied with.

The number of parents opting for in-classroom learning has also been on the rise.

Experts are of the opinion that pupils physically attending schools are a way forward towards normalisation of educational processes and winning over the Covid-19 challenge.

“We’re better informed and equipped to handle the pandemic after more than a year of the viral outbreak. Vaccination reduces risks and parents of vaccinated pupils are expected to show increased readiness to send their wards to the school,” said Koshy.

Schools have sent a circular to parents, encouraging them to get their wards in the age category of 12 to 15 years to get vaccinated.

“The circular provides parents with clear guidelines regarding downloading the mobile application (app) and registration. The school already has in place a Covid-19 awareness programme for its pupils. We hope to remove any apprehensions that anyone might have in taking the Covid-19 jab,” he added.

“Some parents are enthused to hear the news and we’re encouraging them to follow the protocols of the UAE government and the authorities because the initiative is for the welfare of the society and community at large. We’re planning awareness sessions and meetings to educate parents to create public safety goals,” said Fathima Sherief, assessment coordinator, Gulf Model School, Dubai.

Earlier, the school authorities had ensured administering Covid-19 jabs to both teachers and non-teaching employees to safeguard public health.

At present, around 60 per cent of pupils in the age group of 12 to 17 years are physically attending classes while adhering to strict Covid-19 protocols and experts are confident that the figure will come up soon.

Schools are also working closely with Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to ensure pupils and their immediate family members can easily get inoculated.

Social interaction, building relationships, physical games and competitions are some of the key activities that the pupils have sorely missed since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

Some have missed the first year of school and some their last, which are both memorable and once-in-a-lifetime occasions.

However, schools came up with innovative solutions to make for the lost opportunities for their pupils.

Significantly, the school authorities have managed to spread good cheer and made pupils’ physical, mental and emotional wellness as their priority.

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