Abu Dhabi schools can now operate at full capacity

Although most students have returned for in-person classes, private schools have said they will continue with the hybrid learning model



Supplied photos
Supplied photos
by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 31 Jan 2022, 3:46 PM

Last updated: Mon 31 Jan 2022, 10:21 PM

After three weeks of remote learning since the start of the new term, the second phase of Abu Dhabi school pupils have returned for in-person learning.

This includes students from grades 6 to 9 for private schools and grades 6 to 11 in public schools. Those in kindergarten to grade 5 and grades 10, 11 and 12 in private schools had resumed face-to-face learning on January 24.

Although most students have returned for in-person classes, private schools have said they will continue with the hybrid learning model, which calls for alternate days or weeks of in-classroom teaching to ensure all Covid-19 protocols are implemented.

Neeraj Bhargava, principal of Abu Dhabi Indian School said his school, which has more than 5,000 students, said the school has welcomed several pupils from all grades for in-person learning.

“On Monday, we have received a big a number of students for face-to-face learning and many others will be joining next week,” he said.

“We shall continue applying the hybrid and blended learning models. We have a huge number of students, and we want to ensure that we adhere to the social distancing measures for the safety of pupils and school staff.”

Bhargava noted that 60 per cent of the students under 16 have so far been vaccinated against Covid-19. All students above the age of 16 have received the Covid jabs, he added.

Anna Pagdiwalla, principal of Mayoor School in Abu Dhabi, said on Monday, the school welcomed pupils from grades 6 to 9 and those in grade 11.

“It was a very emotional day for both, students and staff as students reported for in-person classes after a long period of time. It was joyful to watch their smiles when they arrived at the school campus,” she said.

According to Pagdiwalla, about 750 students have so far reported to school for physical learning.

“It is good thing that most of the parents have vaccinated their children against Covid-19. The vaccination rate for students aged 16 and above is 100 percent,” she said.

“Also, about 50 per cent of students aged below 16 have been vaccinated against coronavirus.”

The school principal noted that they are still following the hybrid model of learning, but are looking forward to having all students on campus as soon as possible.

Jaana Wilkko, principal of Garden City British School in Al Ain, said over 96 per cent of their students enrolled in face-to-face learning, which is a great sign that their community trusts the school's safety procedures and wants their children back on campus to resume their on-campus learning experience.

“We do, however, have students that are still online as a result of the present Covid situation. Parents are quite understanding and cooperative,” she said.

Wikko pointed out that there has been a significant increase in the number of students getting vaccinated.

“Thanks to Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek)'s Blue Schools Initiative, which encourages all students to get vaccinated. Garden City British School is more committed than ever to ensuring the safety of the community."

Emma Shanahan, principal of Aspen Heights British School, said students from all grades returned to in-person learning for the first time since the beginning of the second term.

“The atmosphere was particularly positive with a tangible excitement and anticipation. Whilst we work hard to ensure our distance learning provision is as engaging, interesting, and relevant as possible, and meets the learning needs of the students, what it can’t replicate is the sense of community, peer support, and feeling of belonging that happens when we are all reunited,” she said.

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“We are so fortunate that at Aspen Heights British School, our families are so responsible and community-focused; the testing requirements for school entry are familiar to all now, and we have been able to ensure welcoming the upper year groups back to school was seamless and calm.”

Last year, Adek rolled out the Blue Schools Initiative that recognises vaccination as the key path to recovery and encourages immunisation of all students, increasing their protection against Covid-19 and minimising the impact of possible infections.

Education regulators had earlier said schools will be tier-based on student vaccination rates. Schools with a higher percentage of vaccinated students will be able to gradually relax measures, including reduced social distancing requirements, relaxed mask-wearing protocols, increased classroom and school transport capacity, and a return to extracurricular activities, in-school events and field trips.


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