Back to school in UAE: Abu Dhabi pupils excited to return to school, meet friends as new term begins

Students and school staff had to present a 96-hour negative PCR result on the first day of the academic year



File photo
File photo
by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 29 Aug 2022, 4:49 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Aug 2022, 10:17 PM

Pupils in Abu Dhabi have been excited to return to school and meet with friends as the new term began on Monday, after a two-month long summer break.

Public school pupils returned to school campuses for physical learning on August 29, for the new academic year 2022-2023.

Students and school staff were both required to present a 96-hour negative PCR result on the first day of reporting to school, as a safety measure to ensure the safety of the school community.

Eleina D'silva, a Grade 5 student at Abu Dhabi Indian School, says she is delighted to return to school and meet her friends after the two-month summer break.

“I am so excited to return to school after the long summer holiday,” D'silva told Khaleej Times.

“I love school as I look forward to learning new skills and having a blast with my friends. I'm looking forward to sharing the experience of my vacation with them and to tell them that I missed them so much.”

Chris Vinod, a Grade 8 student at Abu Dhabi Indian School, says he is also very happy to return to school.

“I feel very excited to enter the school campus and meet my friends and teachers", he said. "We can talk, play and engage in lots of innovative and creative activities in our classrooms.”

Neeraj Bhargava, Principal of Abu Dhabi Indian School, said the first day of the new school term went smoothly, and children were very happy to return.

“There was excitement everywhere as students met their friends after a two-month summer break. Pupils were eager to go to the sports grounds during play time to enjoy activities with friends,” he said, adding that more than 95 per cent of students reported to school on the first day.

“The exiting Covid protocols were fully observed, and school buses operated smoothly to transport students to school and back home,” said Bhargava.

Allison McDonald, Principal of Al Basma British School, said attendance on the first day of the new term was strong, with children glad to be back in school after the long summer holiday.

“Parents, staff and students are all happy to have slightly more relaxed Covid protocols, and are excited to get back to nearly normal operations,” she said.

“We are looking forward to hosting events and educational visits, and to reintroducing after school enrichment programmes and competitive sports. As always, parents were extremely supportive in their cooperation with the new Covid regulations, and were very patient as we checked Al Hosn and PCR results on entry.”

McDonald noted that for children aged 12 and above, PCR test results were checked at the door and upon entry to buses, to make sure they were green, and to make sure test results were less than 96 hours old.

The school principal pointed out that the staggered start, with different year groups returning to school on different days, ensured a smooth start to the year.

“It has been a challenge this year, however, to ensure that the revised bus routes meet with the new Department of Transport (DoT) regulations,” she said.

“With journey times cut to a maximum of 60 minutes, from the previous requirement of 75 minutes, bus routes have all had to be re-organised, with additional buses being sourced and readied for the start of term.”

Covid protocols observed for students’ safety

George Mathew, Principal and CEO of GEMS United Indian School, says students looked refreshed and starry-eyed as they met their teachers and friends on the first day of the new school term.

“To ensure Covid protocols are strictly adhered to, students were asked to load their negative PCR report on the GEMS-designed ERP portal, Phoenix, before coming into school,” he said.

“In addition, students brought a hard copy, in colour, with them before boarding buses. All entrance zones are equipped with thermal cameras that monitor students' temperatures. The wearing of masks is strictly monitored, and spare masks are made available to all teachers in case students need to replace them.”

Mathew pointed out that teachers and administrative teams also had to present their Al Hosn app before accessing school facilities.

“Distancing protocols and indicator stickers are in place all across the school. Teachers and student-leaders are trained to report students with symptoms to the school nurse,” he said.

According to the school principal, 76 per cent of students attended school on the first day. “Cards were made to help make the students feel comfortable and welcome to their new school. Class welcome boards were set up as well,” he said.

“KG students were beaming with joy, and were presented with a day of activities which saw them exploring the new play area, presenting their summer holiday projects, and participating in a music and movement session.”

Updated Covid protocols for new school year

UAE authorities had announced last week a set of updated Covid-19 safety protocols for school students, including:

  • Students aged 12 and above, along with administrative and educational staff, must produce a negative PCR test result within 96 hours of the first day of school.
  • Periodic PCR tests after are not required. Symptomatic students, however, will need to test.
  • According to a government spokesperson, masks remain mandatory in closed spaces, but social distancing is no longer mandatory inside schools and buses. School management and bus operators may implement distancing measures as they deem fit.
  • Remote learning will be made available to students who test positive for Covid-19.
  • Those who have symptoms of respiratory illnesses can learn remotely until they get their PCR test results.
  • Thermal screenings are not required, provided students who have high temperatures stay away from schools and test for Covid. If they test negative, they will need to apply for a sick leave.

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