Students aged 12 and above who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will need to take a PCR test every week for in-person learning, it was announced on Sunday.
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Vaccinated students aged 12 and above; and unvaccinated ones under 12 will need to undergo a PCR test every month.
These came as authorities in the UAE announced a Covid-19 vaccination and PCR testing protocol for students of schools and colleges.
According to the document released by the Ministry of Education (MoE), the protocols could be changed by the education regulators in each Emirate. This means, for instance, Abu Dhabi and Dubai can have their own Covid safety rules at educational institutions. In fact, education regulators in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah had previously announced their own back to school protocols.
The MoE said the protocol may be “changed or amended without notice, as directed by the authorities concerned or the relevant authorities of the Government or the Emirate, at any time, depending on developments”.
The protocol will be implemented after a grace period of 30 days from the first academic day.
According to Dr Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson of the UAE healthcare sector, during the 30-day grace period, all vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be required to take a PCR test every two weeks.
Dr Farida said parents would need to show proof of kids’ vaccination on AlHosn app. PCR test results and vaccination certificates must be printed and brought to school.
Distance learning will continue to be an option for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, she added.
“The protocol will be updated based on the situation in the country. Health authorities are working on adding more age groups to those that require to be vaccinated,” she added.
The official urged parents to get their children vaccinated. In the UAE, Sinopharm vaccines can be administered to children aged three and over; while Pfizer jabs are given to those aged 12 and above.
Students who are not medically eligible to receive the vaccine must get an exemption certificate and commit to periodic PCR tests.
86% teaching staff vaccinated
Dr Farida announced that 86 per cent of the teaching staff in the country have been vaccinated against Covid-19. About 84 per cent of administrative and technical staff are vaccinated.
Students, staff to sign health pledge
All students and education staff will sign pledges stating that they have not been infected with Covid-19 or come in contact with a patient.
School managements are required to prevent crowding on campus, especially at entry and exit points; and during breaks.
A social distance of one metre is mandatory, with stickers on the ground to guide students. Posters promoting social distancing and hand hygiene must be placed across the campus.
Students must wear masks and avoid shaking hands and hugging one another.
Muslim students must bring their own mats to offer prayer at the mosques in schools. They have to wear their masks during the prayer. Prayer rooms will be cleaned with disinfectants after each use.
Abu Dhabi schools
Authorities in Abu Dhabi had earlier announced that all students aged 12 and above will need to take PCR tests every two weeks.
Additionally, students aged 16 and above must be fully vaccinated to return to school. However, if exempted from vaccination, the students can access the school premises.
According to Sharjah’s education regulator, students won't need to be mandatorily vaccinated against Covid-19.
Those aged 12 and above will need to produce a negative Covid-19 PCR test result at the beginning of the academic term that starts in September.
Those aged between 40 and 60 accounted for 13 per cent of deaths in third wave.
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