Three school reopening models but one goal: Safety

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on August 11, 2020 | Last updated on August 11, 2020 at 06.33 am
Three, school, reopening models, goal, Safety

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David Cook, headmaster of Repton School Dubai, said they will be able to offer classes to all students, all day.

All set for reopening, schools in the UAE have finalised the learning models they will be implementing for the upcoming academic year. Some will have all students on campus every day, while a number will carry out more online classes. The rest have said they will have an equal number of students opting for both remote and in-classroom learning.

Whether its 'open to every pupil every day' or the blended approach, safety has been the top priority for all these campuses. Schools have carefully tailored precautionary measures to the learning models they have chosen. Khaleej Times reached out to school leaders to understand what they are offering at the beginning of the academic year.

David Cook, headmaster of Repton School Dubai, said they will be able to offer classes to all students, all day.

"A modest number of pupils have requested on medical grounds to receive support via distance learning and we are able to meet these requests," he said. Younger students will also have staggered drop-off and pick-up timings, which will slightly modify their school day schedules.

The English College will also be implementing the 'open every day for every pupil' approach. Mark Ford, principal of the school, said: "We have received approval and are planning for 100 per cent of our students to be in school full time on August 30, in a safe and secure learning environment.

"So far, the initial response from our parents has been very positive; the parents are delighted their children will be back into class and face-to-face learning and grateful for the work the school has done in making this happen."

Horizon English School aims to have every student on campus daily, too. Its headmaster Ian Wallace said: "All grades will be in school and we have staggered timings for specific year groups."

All institutions are expected to adhere to health and safety protocols, which allow no more than 10 per class in the foundation school. In the older year groups, a 1.5m social distancing rule must be applied.

Distance learning choice

In a number of surveys that polled parents, some schools took note of apprehensions for in-person learning. In Gulf Model School (GMS) in Dubai, majority of students are opting for e-learning.

Annie Mathew, principal of GMS, said: "Our survey results show that a majority of parents would like to continue with distance learning, especially in lower grades. So, our school is offering both on-site and online learning options."

International School of Creative Science-Nad Al Sheba is also ready to provide distance learning classes. Ataullah Parker, the school's principal, said: "We are offering blended learning and 100 per cent distance learning to parents. We recognise that some parents would like to opt for the provision of 100 per cent distance learning and we are working closely with them to cater to their requirements."

Blended learning

Most schools, however, are opting for a hybrid model. Punit MK Vasu, CEO of The Indian High Group of Schools, said: "When the school reopens after the summer break, we will move into a hybrid model where all students will benefit from a unique mix of onsite face-to-face (FTF) and online Distance Learning (DL) sessions. We will support coherent weekly transitions between in-school and distance learning."

Many campuses will also have half of its students attend an 'AM' shift (8am to 11.30am) and the other a 'PM' shift (11.30am to 3pm). Institutions may offer one side of the school building for classes, giving schools an opportunity to deeply sanitise facilities.

Zoe Woolley, headmistress of Foremarke School, said they are well aware of parents' hesitation. "We would encourage all children to return to campus. However, there is provision in place for those who have requested to stay off site for various reasons. These families will also have additional support from the pastoral team." 

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