Abu Dhabi: Students return to school for first time since pandemic

Students can be exempted if they present an attested ‘high risk’ medical report



Supplied photos of students of Ajyal International School
Supplied photos of students of Ajyal International School
by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 11 Apr 2022, 3:42 PM

After almost two years of hybrid learning, private school principals and students are excited about the safe return of all students for in-person learning on Monday.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) last week announced that all students in Abu Dhabi private and charter schools must return to in-classroom learning from the new term which began on April 11.

They must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result issued within 96 hours on the first day of their return to school.

Students can be exempted if they present an attested ‘high risk’ medical report that confirms their inability to attend school in person. Students showing Covid-19 symptoms are exempted as well, according to Adek.

Neeraj Bhargava, Principal of Abu Dhabi Indian School said it was the first time that his school, which has more than 5,000 students, welcomed all pupils from all grades for in-person learning since the outbreak of the Covid-19.

“We are excited about receiving all our students back on school campus for physical learning. We are now 100 percent capacity in class and school buses,” he told Khaleej Times on Monday.

“Our students are very happy that they can now attend all classes at school and interact physically with their teachers and also play with friends in the school compound.”

Like many other private schools in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Indian School had continued with hybrid learning model that calls for alternate days or weeks of in-classroom teaching and remote learning to ensure that all Covid-19 protocols were implemented.

Bhargava says kindergarten pupils, who enrolled to the school two years ago during the Covid-19 pandemic, have come to the school campus for in-person learning for the first time.

“These small pupils have been attending classes online since they started schooling. They have now come to school for the first time to study Grade-1 after progressing from kindergarten,” said Bhargava adding that the school staff has ensured that all students pass through the thermal scanners at the gates and present a negative PCR test result before being allowed entry to the school premises.

Mohamad Saad, Principal of Ajyal International School, MBZ, Abu Dhabi says at the start of term three on Monday, the school had almost all its students back to face-to-face learning.

“We are all excited about this. Students and parents have been excited too. We had over 95 percent attendance today,” he said.

“The easing on the restrictions have helped us to welcome more students on campus. Let’s hope we continue to move forward towards full return to pre-Covid situation.”

Anna Pagdiwalla, principal Mayoor School in Abu Dhabi said the school is very excited and happy to see students come back to class 100 percent.

“We are following closely all the safety protocols like PCR check, thermal scanning at cetera which is all mandatory including wearing of masks inside classes,” she said.

“Students are very happy and excited to be back in school and very eager to meet with their friends talk to them and also communicate with the class teacher. It’s good to see so many smiley faces after such a long time.”

Allison McDonald, Principal of Al Basma British School, Al Bahya said: “We are delighted to have all of our nursery to FS-2 children back in school full time.

“Monday has gone on smoothly as all of our young children have followed their normal routines and are delighted to have all of their friends in class with them.”

Routine PCR tests

According to Adek, routine Covid PCR tests would apply to unvaccinated and vaccinated students and staff:

>> Unvaccinated students: Those aged 16 and above can return to school, but must produce a negative PCR test result every seven days.

>> Vaccinated students: Those aged 16 and above must undergo PCR tests every 14 days, and show their green status on Al Hosn App to enter schools. The same testing routine and requirements apply for those with medical exemption validated on Al Hosn App.

>> Students aged below 16: PCR test remains valid for 30 days.

Al Hosn Green Pass requirements will apply to all school visitors, while unvaccinated visitors will be required to present a negative PCR test result issued within 48 hours.

Covid rules eased

Adek earlier said physical distancing requirements had been lifted inside classrooms in time for the new term. This come weeks after the requirement was lifted in outdoor open areas.

Students in grades 1-12 are required to wear face masks inside. Wearing one is optional in outdoor areas.

The updated protocols also remove classroom and bubble closure requirements, with a three-day school-level closure only taking place if 15 per cent of its student body test positive at the same time. Following the completion of closure period, close contact students must adhere to the testing schedule, while students who tested positive continue distance learning till the completion of their isolation procedures.

Close contacts

Students, teachers, and staff who come in close contact with a confirmed positive case will be required to test on days one and seven or when they start showing symptoms. Earlier in March, quarantine requirements were removed for the same categories.

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