Back to campus: Schools in Dubai offer e-learning to worried parents

Schools, mask, KHDA

Dubai - School heads contend that their ultimate goal is to provide the safest learning environment possible.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Sun 26 Jul 2020, 7:20 AM

Last updated: Sun 26 Jul 2020, 12:56 PM

Schools in Dubai have started devising concrete alternatives to on-campus learning, as several parents remain unsure of sending their children to classrooms after the summer break.
This also comes on the heels of a recent advisory from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), stating that once the academic year has started, "schools cannot choose to change the education model they are offering without prior approval".
Earlier this month, the KHDA released a 118-point circular, titled 'Protocols for the Reopening of Private Schools in Dubai', detailing the safety measures related to fighting the spread of Covid-19.
School heads contend that their ultimate goal is to provide the safest learning environment possible that also matches the needs of both parents and students.
"There are lots of parents who have expressed their reservation about sending their wards to schools for on-site learning," said Zubair Ahmad, head of operations at Springdales School Dubai.
For such students, online learning options will be made available, he said.
"But we are open to welcoming those who are keen on returning to campus, under all safety guidelines that will be implemented."
A blended learning approach - a combination of online classes and classroom lectures - seems to be the way forward for a number of other schools.
Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-principal of Credence High School, said: "Either live-streaming of on-campus classes or remote learning, both synchronous and asynchronous, will be provided to students whose parents are uncomfortable in sending their children to school."
Thapar said they plan to live-stream classes so that both students in school and at home can follow lessons at the same time. "This way, students at home get the 'feel' of being in class. Live-streamed instruction can also be recorded for students who need to view it later."
Institutions will also continue to provide training and support for their teachers to develop a learning environment that works best for everyone.
Feedback and polls
Sharafudeen Thanikatt, principal of Crescent English High School in Dubai, said: "We will review the distance learning timetable monthly to monitor stakeholder wellbeing, including workload and screen time."
A timetable for homework, assessment, and student feedback will also be set up for all phases, Thanikatt said.
In the interim, schools have also been conducting polls to gauge how many parents are comfortable with sending their children to schools in September.
Based on that, institutions have been customising their reopening plans.
Annie Mathew, principal of Gulf Model School, said: "For those students who may be unable to attend school, alternate plans are in place. We will make sure that there is no disruption in learning. We have submitted a model for blended learning."
KHDA addresses parents' nervousness

On its website, Dubai's education regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority has addressed parents' concerns about sending their children back to campus from the new academic year.

> I feel nervous about sending my kids back to school - what can I do?
We know that returning to school could be a worrisome time for parents and students. Schools will be following specific health and safety guidelines to protect students and staff. If you feel nervous about sending your children to school, please speak with the school to learn more about how they're approaching health and safety, and what you can do to play your part. Being safe at school is everyone's responsibility.
> Can I choose to keep my children at home until I feel it's safe?
Each school will be offering different options for learning in the new academic year, in consultation with parents. Please check with your child's school to see what options are available to you.
Survey reveals parents' preference
A survey conducted by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge saw parents reveal their preferences when it comes to school reopening.
. 45% of parents willing to send their child to school from new academic year
. 34% Prefer a full-day return
. 16% Prefer a half-day model

. 34% Want to continue distance learning
. 39% Emirati parents want e-learning to continue
. 33% Expatriates want e-learning to continue

More news from Education