Parents’ survey paves way for Abu Dhabi schools to reopen

Staff Reporter/Abu Dhabi
Filed on July 21, 2020 | Last updated on July 22, 2020 at 06.30 am
Abu Dhabi's education regulator issues reopening policies and guidelines.

Adek asks schools to announce individual reopening models before July 30.

Students in Abu Dhabi will return to schools next academic year as the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) has given a green light to continue in-classroom learning.

Adek has issued comprehensive reopening policies and guidelines to ensure the safest possible return for the emirate's students and teachers from the beginning of the new academic year.

Four pillars for safe schooling

Adek has worked extensively over the last few months with schools, parent representatives, teachers and the relevant authorities to make these policies as comprehensive as possible. The policies are framed around four main dimensions: Safe operations, teaching and learning, staff and student wellbeing, and community support.

> Safe operations: This lays out procedures aimed at ensuring safety in every aspect of a school's operations.

> Teaching and learning: This instructs schools on how to adopt social distancing processes and other safety measures without jeopardising the overarching academic mission. Three basic preventive measures are outlined, including social distancing, where schools are requested to organise time and space to minimise interactions between people; protective equipment, where schools are requested to instal appropriate equipment, screens, partitions and other protective measures; and maintaining the highest hygiene standards, with schools requested to regularly disinfect and clean all areas.

> Staff and student wellbeing: This outlines procedures aimed at ensuring schools are fully prepared to assist with student and teacher health and wellbeing

> Community support: It encourages schools to provide assistance to students in need, such as fee discounts, payment deferrals and splitting term fees into monthly instalments, among others.

"We are committed to ensuring the safest possible return to in-classroom education for students and teachers and the guidelines, aligned with global best practice, take into account every aspect of school operations," said Amer Al Hammadi, Adek Undersecretary. "The guidelines also put in place mechanisms to support the wellbeing of everyone in the Abu Dhabi education community," he added.

Parents' survey

Adek received responses from 63 per cent of Abu Dhabi private school parents on the survey that was launched covering a range of topics from opinions and considerations on schools reopening, to preferences on duration and format of school days and transportation for the upcoming term.

The survey findings will be used in conjunction with the comprehensive guidelines to help 201 education entities under the Adek umbrella shape their individual plans for the new academic year.

"We would like to thank parents for responding to the survey. They are invaluable partners in the success of our students and the education journey as a whole. Everybody has worked so hard during our recent enforced period of distance learning and parents deserve tremendous credit," said Al Hammadi.

"Following an in-depth analysis of responses, we are now better positioned to help schools ensure their planning process for reopening is well-informed and supported by data and insights from their own parent community. We fully understand that parents still harbour some concerns about a safe return to school and we want to reiterate that distance learning provisions remain in place for all schools, irrespective of the reopening model they choose.

"As we continue to assess different scenarios and models for the new academic year, we remain in constant dialogue with federal and local authorities to ensure the health and wellbeing of all students, faculty, and staff."

Plans by July 30

Adek has requested schools to announce their reopening models by July 30 to enable parents to take an informed decision about where they wish to enrol their children for the new academic year.

The authority has also issued a Parents' Guide, which provides a full understanding of the reopening guidelines allowing parents to be more informed about the health, safety and wellbeing of their children and the important part they play in the process. 

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