Covid-19: Several Dubai schools extend remote learning for at least one more week

Some schools to reopen on Monday for on-site learning


Nandini Sircar

Published: Sat 8 Jan 2022, 3:35 PM

Last updated: Sat 8 Jan 2022, 11:45 PM

A majority, if not all of Gems schools in Dubai, will be going online for at least one more week.

At the start of second term on January 3, 30 schools in Dubai switched to distance learning.

"GEMS Education continues to work very closely with the authorities in the UAE to keep our school communities as safe as possible following the move to distance learning, said Elmarie Venter, Chief Operations Officer, GEMS Education.

She added, "We are continuously monitoring the situation and look forward to welcoming our students back into the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so.

"We will never compromise on the health, safety and wellbeing of our students, their families, and our staff. We are keeping our families up to date with all developments and thank them for their understanding and cooperation."

Negative PCR test report

Zubair Ahmad, Head of Operations, Springdales School Dubai, says, "We have extended distance learning by a week to assess the situation and have asked all our students and staff to produce a negative PCR test report upon their arrival, when they rejoin on the January 17.

"There is a centre in SEHA that allows free Covid tests for students. We wish to ensure that all returning staff and students are healthy and safe. However, we will be providing blended and online learning options to few students depending on their condition."

This comes as some schools in Dubai gear up to reopen for on-site learning on Monday Jan 10, while other schools adopt a further wait-and-watch approach for at least one more week before they resume face-to-face classes.

Resumption of face-to-face classes

Dubai International Academy EH, that had switched to distance learning last week, will resume on-site classes and has informed parents that any change in the current situation might warrant shifting to online classes again.

In a note to parents the school informed, "Whilst we will continue managing higher than usual staff absence due to quarantine guidelines, we will reopen all year groups from Monday, January 10, for those able to attend and we're confident we can provide a safe learning environment. Where staff absence occurs, learning may be delivered remotely with alternative staff in the classroom. KHDA guidelines have been updated to include no PE lessons.

We are committed to having the school open for face-to-face learning and hope to prevent a full closure going forward but understand that many students and staff may need to be at home. If the situation requires, we can't rule out full Distance Learning for sections of the school."


Parents are relieved but worried

Parents have expressed mixed reactions to both online and on-site learning.

Some feel the resumption of face-to-face classes provides an interactive environment for students which cannot be substituted by online learning.

Others aver the health and safety of students and staff cannot be compromised given the high number of coronavirus cases.

Arijit Nandi says, “I will be sending my son to school after keeping him at home for one week of distance learning as my child’s school reopens for in-person classes on Monday. On the one hand, I feel it’s a good idea that schools are reopening for in-person learning, but on the other hand, my wife and I have our apprehensions. The virus is spreading at an unprecedented rate, and one cannot always be sure if other people are following the protocols as stringently and keeping their wards at home when they exhibit symptoms or feel unwell.”

Nandi adds, “Navigating through various roles and responsibilities while your child is doing online learning can be difficult. On the other hand, the anxiety that your child may contract the virus, suffer, and isolate is even more worrisome. But I am sure schools take their decisions after thoroughly assessing the situation. So, I must reiterate that I have faith in the institution and its decision-makers.”

Educational establishments are working on alternate academic schedules and class structures to consider the increase in Covid-19 cases.

Filipino father Ben Lebig says, “My child’s school has extended distance learning by another week. They are trying to gauge the situation to see if things improve in another week’s time. As a parent, I feel I am sitting on the fence. My child, who is in Year 8, really wants to go to school now, but maybe it’s a good idea to return for face-to-face classes only after the situation stabilizes.”

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