Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic struck our lives two and half years ago, masks have been made mandatory in schools. Schools moved to online learning during the peak of the pandemic, and in-person learning resumed in October last year.
However, authorities announced Monday that wearing masks is no longer mandatory in classrooms and inside school campuses. Many schools in the UAE have encouraged students and teachers to continue with the practice of wearing masks if they wish to do so.
“It is up to the parent or student to continue wearing a mask,” said Govindrao Naik, CEO, JSS group of schools.
Naik noted that management has been following strict KHDA guidelines in the seating arrangement of pupils in classrooms and in hygiene maintenance. “The seating distance is one metre now, and we encourage students to maintain hygiene and wash and sanitise their hands regularly,” said Naik.
“We look forward to seeing the facial expressions and beautiful smiles of all our students and staff. This is particularly helpful for students in the early years, where some parents had expressed concerns about masks muffling voices and making lip reading impossible,” said Punit MK Vasu, CEO of The Indian High Group of Schools.
“With masks not being mandatory, we will be able to provide greater and better support to the individual needs of many learners. We encourage a common sense approach for all stakeholders in making an informed choice based on their health situation, and taking all the necessary precautions,” he added.
Vasu also mentioned that the school would continue to follow strict health and safety protocols, including the consistent and regular sanitisation of all key areas, especially bus transport. “Our trained health and safety staff will continue to remain diligent in following established procedures on contact tracing,” said Vasu.
Ruth Burke, CEO and Principal of Swiss International School Dubai, recommended that students and parents decide whether or not they wish to continue wearing masks themselves as we enter the post-Covid era.
“We will be taking a sensitive approach to mask removal and we will consider how this might impact our students' mental health. It will be wonderful to see our staff and students' smiles again, and embrace more natural, open communication where possible,” said Burke.
However, the reaction of parents to mask removal has been mixed, with most in two minds about the easing of the restrictions.
“It would be good to take off [masks] because kids can be free and not bother with the ear pain", said Azeeja Aman.
"But I’m worried about the changing weather, and many suffer from colds and coughs, [in which case] the masks are helpful. My daughter is adamant she won’t take her mask off – so for at least the next couple of months, she will continue wearing her mask."
Another mother, Renuka Mehta, will continue to send her son Amit to school and public places wearing a mask. “It has become a norm and a habit", she explained.
"My son feels uncomfortable without a mask, and [we will] continue with this for a few more months.”
“As we get used to the post-Covid era, we will gradually get rid of the protective gear,” Mehta concluded.
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