An error of judgement -- a case of mistaken identity by a Dubai school -- ended up in a comedy of errors thanks to miscommunication.
Better safe than sorry goes the old proverb, and it's best to stick to it, but things took a bizarre turn yesterday here in Dubai when a school mistook a woman 'armed' with a bottle of detergent to be an intruder and locked down the campus, called the cops, and asked parents to collect their kids immediately. It sounded terrible. Dubai school full of students under lockdown following an 'incident'. That was the initial news that broke in the morning, sending chills down the spine of residents - especially parents. A terse statement by the education provider alluding to an 'incident' but without giving any details raised more questions than answers.
Rumours flew thick and fast. The presence of several cops on the campus wasn't helping matters either. What was going on? What could this 'incident' be? Social media was in overdrive. Intruder in the school, it was shared. Intruder or intruders? Are they armed? OMG! Students were cordoned off to the corners of their respective classrooms, a routine that's part of the standard drill in case of an armed attack - adding further fodder to the rumour-mill. The hundred-odd parents who came to collect their kids weren't allowed inside for at least an hour - a terribly anxious one hour for them. Reportedly, minor scuffles broke out between agitated parents and school security. You can't blame the parents for frothing at the mouth when their children were inside the campus and there was no clarity on what exactly was the matter.
As it turned out, it was an overzealous parent in her 30s who'd entered the premises wearing a medical mask and carrying some cleaning powder and detergents with the aim of showing the school's cleaners "how to clean properly". What sounded terrible at the beginning of the day now sounded hilarious. We can share a few laughs at the expense of the school now that we know it was nothing more than a case of mistaken identity. There's another proverb that goes 'all's well that ends well' but I'd still want to know whether it was the medical mask or the detergent that spooked the school security enough to send the residents of one of the world's safest cities in a tizzy.