UAE schools gear up for in-person graduation ceremonies

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Dubai - KHDA had earlier given the nod, provided Dubai schools ‘keep in line with health, safety protocols’.

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 7 Jun 2021, 7:08 PM

Last updated: Tue 8 Jun 2021, 7:33 AM

Some Dubai schools have started holding in-person graduation ceremonies following the green signal from authorities.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) had earlier given the nod to host graduation ceremonies, provided schools “keep in line with specific health and safety protocols.”

Last year schools had to hold online ceremonies, but on this Monday, GEMS Our Own Indian School- Dubai, students’ donned their caps and gowns to celebrate the special occasion with their classmates, while their parents and students who could not attend, watched the event online.

Lalitha Suresh, Principal at GEMS Our Own Indian School said, “At our school the Graduation ceremony marked the end of a phase for an ambivalent year. Thanks to the mandate from KHDA, with all protocols in place, 261 students of our outgoing batch received the scrolls. There was one emotion that was rife in every student’s mind, earning a school-leaving certificate under such unprecedented conditions. For students who had spent 14 years at OIS, it was a heartwarming session wherein they bid farewell to their alma mater, expressed gratitude to their teachers and mentors who handled them through this difficult year.”

Many other school heads are looking forward to organise similar ceremonies for their students, which is one of the highlights of a school year and incredibly important for graduates.

Matthew Tompkins, CEO/Principal, GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa, says: “We will be following the guidelines this year from the authorities, including allowing only vaccinated attendees or those who can present a negative PCR test certificate.”

As per KHDA guidelines, institutions are encouraged to place the certificates on the chairs and only take pictures with the academic staff on the stage, while following social distancing guidelines.

“We will also have designated chairs for everyone and we will follow the rules around social distancing and mask-wearing. Unfortunately, there can be no hand-shaking or hugs of congratulations this year, but we are all thoroughly looking forward to it in any case,” adds Tompkins.


Private schools in Sharjah have also been given the go-ahead to host in-person graduation ceremonies this year.

In a 16-point circular Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), states: “Attendees who have completed 28 days or more since receiving the second dose, as documented in the vaccination report from the AlHosn application, or those who have obtained an approved medical report for an exception of receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. All attendees, including graduates, must present a negative PCR test for not less than 48 hours before the ceremony. A maximum of two members of the graduate’s family are allowed to attend, and must be first-degree family members. The ceremony should not exceed an hour and a half.”

A Sharjah principal, on condition of anonymity, said, “The guidelines have been shared with us by SPEA and we can conduct the graduation ceremony at external venues, but there are several factors related to compliance issues. Schools have been given a pro forma that they need to fill and submit to SPEA in case they are holding these ceremonies outside. After we select an external venue, a SPEA inspector will check the venue’s suitability and occupancy load to ensure Covid-19 social distancing norms can be adhered to at the designated venue.

“Therefore, many of us have decided to hold the graduation ceremonies online this year. It makes little sense to conduct ceremonies without all the students and their guardians. It’s an important day for parents too. So, we’d like them to be a part of it. Hence, we’ve decided to go online this year as well.”

Protocols for graduation ceremonies in Dubai schools

- The ceremony must not exceed 90 minutes

- Food is not allowed

- Students and two family members are allowed at the venue

- The venue’s capacity should ensure at least 4 square metres of space per person

- Gatherings are not allowed inside and outside the hall

- Hand shaking and any form of physical contact (hugging, kissing) are prohibited

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