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UAE nurseries seek 'same reopening guidelines' as schools

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on September 9, 2020 | Last updated on September 9, 2020 at 09.08 pm
UAE nurseries, seek, same, reopening guidelines, schools

(Alamy Image)

The operators are seeking a meeting with the authorities to resolve the issues.

The UAE Nurseries Group, which represents several nursery operators, has expressed concerns over reopening guidelines specified for them. The group said the guidelines for a tentative reopening in October "cannot be met by most nursery operators".

The operators are seeking a meeting with the authorities to resolve the issues.

A major cause for concern is that more than two Covid cases detected would result in permanent closure of the nursery. The group said schools and other educational institutions are allowed to switch to distance learning when an infection is detected. "Nursery operators are understandably wary of reopening when two cases, even if contracted externally, can close down their business and their life's work," the group said.

Another issue highlighted by the group is that nurseries have been asked to pay for coronavirus testing of all staff every two weeks, "unlike schools where staff testing was supported by the authorities". "The nursery operators contend that nurseries have now been closed for over six months and should not be expected to shoulder this additional cost in the absence of any financial relief and uncertain cash flow, given that an October reopening is not guaranteed."

What operators say

Lama Chivi, CEO, Babilou Group Middle East & India, which operates 13 nurseries, said: "Parents and nurseries are happy with the reopening news announced by the authorities. However, the reopening guidelines to be followed cannot be met by most nursery operators. We hope to resolve this with a dialogue."

Zeena Assam, founder, Creative Nest Nursery, said the reopening guidelines specified for them are not "applied to other UAE sectors welcoming children, such as schools, malls, hotels and play areas".

"For example, one of the things mentioned is that while children will work in bubbles, even if one child is detected to be Covid-19 positive then the entire nursery closes but if two children get infected, then the entire nursery shuts down indefinitely, which is not the case elsewhere.

Another cause for concern is that for every 10 children, there has to be at least three adults supervising them. "That adds to the operations costs. How do we sustain our business then?" Assam added.

Government support sought

Mahnaz Vatanparvar, managing director, The Little Dreamers Nursery, sought government support for a smooth reopening. "Otherwise, the whole nursery sector may suffer irreparable damage."

Roshi Tandon, managing director, Chubby Cheeks Nursery, explained that unlike schools and early learning centres, nurseries are prohibited from offering transport.

"With many nurseries already closed and a further 50 per cent capacity constraint, our sector will not be able to meet the growing demand from parents," Tandon added.

nandini@khaleejtimes.com 



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