Covid-19: Dubai schools to offer remote learning option even after summer break


Dubai - The distance learning model will be available especially to those students who are immunocompromised or stuck in their home countries.


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sat 24 Jul 2021, 1:03 PM

Last updated: Sat 24 Jul 2021, 1:11 PM

Dubai schools will continue to offer e-learning options even after the summer break.

School principals said remote learning strategies remain at the forefront of delivery modes for the rest of this year, as some parents are still reluctant to send their wards to schools for on-site learning.

However, they reiterated that despite a rushed move to virtual learning last year due to the pandemic, schools have now settled into more nuanced distance learning modes.

Campbell Douglas, Principal/CEO at GEMS Wellington Academy – Al Khail, said, “Whilst we are still awaiting the schools’ reopening protocol for the 2021-2022 academic year, we have told our families that remote learning will be an option for those families that need it — particularly if they are stuck outside the UAE or if there are circumstances that prevent students from attending school. With the overwhelming success of our remote learning model during the previous academic year, we are confident of providing a high quality education — either remotely or on-site — that best suits the needs of our families.”

Other schools noted that while the majority of students have expressed their desire to come back to school physically after the summer holidays, virtual and remote learning are already deeply integrated into their operations.

Sangita Chima, Principal at Amity School Dubai, said, “Ninety-five per cent of our students have confirmed that they will be returning to school in September. Our community is planning for a fresh and resilient reopening after the summer break. However, we continue to invest in EdTech to encourage blended and dual delivery."

The school head noted that this was because it's difficult to predict what the months ahead will unravel in terms of how the Covid situation will develop across the world.

"We are prepared with tangible and effective strategies to work on our systems and are pouring our energy into the constants like relationships and support networks. Of course, e-learning will now be a part of our DNA. Several strategies that have worked well last term will continue, while innovative features in redesigning learning spaces, using technology, and adapting to safety norms as a new-way-of-life will be seamlessly implemented," she added.

Most schools presently have their bus fleet operating at 50 per cent capacity, with Covid safety protocols in place, including regular hand sanitisation and wearing of masks for all students and teachers.

“The bus capacity will depend on the decision taken by the UAE Government. The facility will be provided to all students who sign up for face-to-face learning and opt for school transport,” said Chima.

Blended learning

Institutions are also keen to ensure the confidence of parents in sending their wards to school in a safe environment. They have, therefore, included a distance learning option in their reopening plan that now awaits approval from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

Mohammad Ali Kottakkulam, Principal of Gulf Indian High School Dubai, said, “Some parents of students in lower grades had requested for continuation of SL (Smart Learning) due to the children’s safety concerns. Though we can assure that all safety measures are in place at our school and buses are available as per the protocol, we have already included this provision in our reopening plan, which is now awaiting approval, in anticipation of such requests from parents.”

Schools have also initiated efforts to interact with parents and students in order to educate them about the reopening plan and the safety measures they have in place.

“We are working with them to get to know the exact number of distance learning requests,” added Kottakkulam.

Annie Mathew, Principal of Gulf Model School, said, “We would prefer to continue with the e-learning option until a time when all communities feel it is absolutely safe for students to attend schools physically. Even then, the option for e-learning may be continued for vulnerable students who may be immunocompromised.

"The way the functioning of schools rapidly changed and adapted to the new scenario, it is highly likely that schools will explore further innovative and feasible ways of making optimal use of the e-learning option in tandem with the existing models.”

Mathew also noted that transportation by school buses needs to be worked out based on the changes to the existing protocols. "We will definitely endeavour to provide transportation to all face-to-face students who need the same, but logistics will come into play and it is difficult to be certain at this point of time,” she said.

Meanwhile, institutions have said they are looking to run awareness campaigns from time to time, so that everybody learns to take on the collective responsibility to keep themselves and others safe as schools reopen for the new term.

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