Back to school in UAE: Parents, kids excited about most normal classes since Covid-19

Authorities previously clarified that fortnightly PCR tests would not be required



by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sun 28 Aug 2022, 7:14 PM

Over one million students return to school tomorrow, Monday, August 29 and parents are excited for their children to have the most ‘normal’ schooling since the pandemic hit as most Covid-19 restrictions have been eased.

“The biggest relief has been that the fortnightly PCR tests have been scrapped,” said Neshra K.N., whose daughter Fathima Hamda goes to Grade 2 at Delhi Private School in Ras Al Khaimah. “It was a requirement for the children to have PCR tests every 2 weeks. While my daughter was quite cooperative, there would be many kids who would be crying, and it was quite heartbreaking.”

In updated Covid-19 protocols announced on Tuesday, authorities clarified that periodic PCR tests would not be required starting from tomorrow. Symptomatic students, however, will need to test.

Umm Maryam, a mother from Fujairah, also welcomed the scrapping of PCR tests. “Now children under the age of 12 don’t need to get tested and I am really happy about it,” she said. Her two daughters will be going back to Grade 4 and KG 2 at the St Mary’s school in Fujairah. “There would be huge queues at the testing centres, and we would spend at least a few hours to get the PCR done.”

A government spokesperson said masks remain mandatory in closed spaces, but social distancing is no longer mandatory inside schools and buses.

Hanil Sajad, Imran Sajad
Hanil Sajad, Imran Sajad

Hanil Sajad from Abu Dhabi, whose son Imran Sajad will go to Grade 1 at GEMS Winchester School also expressed his happiness at the relaxation of rules. “Abu Dhabi was quite strict with PCR testing and we only recently went back full time in school learning,” he said. “The relaxed protocols are a huge relief considering how much my son hated both online classes and regular PCR tests.”

While public schools need students above the age of 12 to produce a negative PCR test, this is not a requirement for Dubai students, according to the latest guidelines by Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Social distancing rules and face masks in indoor areas continue to be mandatory in the emirate.

Moza Alari and her daughter
Moza Alari and her daughter

“I am very happy because at schools dropping Covid-19 protocols and the disease being considered more like a normal flu,” said Moza Alari, whose daughter will go to Year 2 and son to FS 2 at Cambridge International School, Dubai. “ As long as kids are vaccinated, I feel like there is nothing to get worried about.”

Excited for school

According to the parents, most children are excited about going back to school. “My younger one is super excited,” said Umm Maryam. “My elder one has some holiday homework pending so she is a little less excited than usual.”

For students in the CBSE system, the academic year begins in March. For schools following the IGCSE, IB and local syllabus, the academic year begins after the summer vacation.

Neshra and her daughter
Neshra and her daughter

Neshra said her daughter can’t wait to go back to school. “We have just returned from vacations in India,” she said. “There she had a lot of fun with her cousins. Now that we are back in Ras Al Khaimah, she is bored, and is really looking forward to going back and meeting her friends.”

Zeba Bobby Hussain
Zeba Bobby Hussain

Seventeen-year-old Zeba Bobby Hussain is excited to go back to school tomorrow. “I didn’t travel anywhere so I have been here all summer,” she said. “I actually look forward to going to school since I've been stuck indoors for so long.”

However, the youngster who attends Grade 12 at Delhi Private School in Sharjah admitted that she is stressed about upcoming examinations. “We have tests a week after school re-opens,” she said. “I have been preparing for it so there is no time for any extracurricular activities this year.”

Most parents have stuck to buying only essential items for their children this year. “I am reusing uniforms and snack boxes,” said Moza. “I think it is important to not get caught up in the back-to-school fever and buy new items only if required.”

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