UAE private schools prepare for both distance education, campus learning models after winter break


Dubai - Schools heads across the country reiterated that, no matter the mode of learning, children’s safety and education would not be compromised

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 30 Dec 2020, 11:19 AM

Last updated: Wed 30 Dec 2020, 11:44 AM

Schools in different emirates are gearing up in different ways to welcome students after the winter break on Sunday, January 3, 2021.

Students across the country are currently on a three-week winter break, which started on December 13.

Some institutions are looking to welcome the majority of their students back on school campuses physically, which is the case with most Dubai schools; some will reopen with the mandatory first two weeks of distance learning as announced in Abu Dhabi this week, and a few others will continue following the blended learning model like in Sharjah, with a tilt towards online classes.

School principals across the three emirates reiterated to Khaleej Times that no matter the mode of learning, children’s safety and education would not be compromised.

In Abu Dhabi, The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee, in coordination with Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), has approved remote learning for the first two weeks of the new school term, starting January 3.

"The decision applies to all students at both public and private schools in the emirate and was made to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and school staff," the Government of Abu Dhabi Media Office tweeted on Wednesday.

Abdul Kader, Principal, The Model School Abu Dhabi said, “We have just received the circular from ADEK that schools need to follow two weeks of distance learning for students, up to January 17, 2021. Although, we were looking forward to receiving students physically on the campus in the New Year, I think this decision is in the best interests of all. We will now be holding several meetings with our teaching staff, who were ready for face-to-face learning, as they will have to switch to the online mode for some more time. This will entail some revised planning on the part of the school.”

Meanwhile, schools in Dubai are ready for the face-to-face classes that have been the trend in many schools, after the summer break, when schools reopened on August 30 earlier this year.

Lalitha Suresh of GEMS Our Own Indian School noted, “We haven’t received any circular from KHDA stating that there are mandatory online classes for Dubai schools. On the contrary, parents are now quite eager to send their wards to school for in-person learning. Some parents are really keen on sending their children for in-person classes, as they want their offspring to attend on-site learning at least during the last few months of the academic session.”

Schools in Sharjah today received a circular stating that students and teachers who had travelled during the winter break must undergo a mandatory home quarantine for two weeks before they return to their respective schools for face-to-face learning.

Pramod Mahajan, Director- Principal of Sharjah Indian School, said, “We had fewer students in 2020 who signed up for on-site learning in Sharjah schools. This morning, we received a notification from Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) stating that all returning students and teachers from overseas must undergo a two weeks’ home quarantine. Therefore, we foresee a continuation of online learning for a majority of our students. If students who haven’t travelled during the break wish to come to school physically, we are more than happy to have them. Otherwise, we will follow the distance learning model.”

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