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No need to panic: How UAE schools are raising awareness about coronavirus

Sarwat Nasir

Published on January 30, 2020 at 00.01

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by Sarwat Nasir Some UAE schools are raising awareness against the coronavirus as a precaution, though are stressing that parents should not panic as schools are "completely safe". After it was announced that a family of four in the UAE has been diagnosed with the virus, which has killed over 130 people in China so far, concerned parents posted on social media, asking whether it was safe to send kids to school. One parent, Shenaaz Abbas, said she wanted her five kids, aged 8 to 14, to wear face masks to school. "The coronavirus is a major concern. We were just discussing this yesterday, even before the announcement of the infected family in the UAE was made, that we need to buy masks and hand sanitiser for the kids," Abbas said. "I am sharing lots of videos with my family members and colleagues on how to take precautions."
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A parent of two teens, Noura Amin, said: “I’m worried about sending my kids to school and want us as a family to avoid crowded places overall. But, the authorities have said there’s no need to panic. It’s still wise to take precaution, so we’ll be wearing the masks and using plenty of hand sanitiser.” Anita Singh, vice-principal of Abu Dhabi’s Shining Star International School, said they’ve put up posters explaining what the Coronavirus is, how one can get infected and health and safety tips. “There’s no need to panic,” Singh told Khaleej Times. “Schools are taking the necessary steps and they are completely safe. There’s no harm in sending kids to school. Even before they detected a case in the UAE, we sent information about the Coronavirus to our parents from the school’s clinic. We told them about the precautions and to take their children to the doctor if they’re sick and not to send them to school. “In the morning assembly, we’ve been talking about washing hands regularly, keeping mouth covered when coughing or sneezing and hands covered when dealing with edible items. Principal of the Bright Riders School in Abu Dhabi, Rishikesh Padegaonkar, said parents “shouldn’t cause panic and should contact their schools if there is concern”.
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“There is no problem in schools. We have all our school teachers’ names displayed on our school portal and the parents can get in touch with them easily,” he said. “Health and safety is part of our curriculum. In all of the assemblies, we’ve been making them aware of the Coronavirus. Our counsellors are doing presentations on precautions.” Meanwhile, the Global Indian International School Dubai (GIISD), is also raising awareness against the virus. “With the first news of the outbreak, the school nurse did awareness campaign for all GIIS Dubai staff — how to reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection,” head of primary at GIISD Alka Yadav said. “We spoke with the students about the importance of cleaning hands with soap and water, covering nose and mouth with tissue or elbow flex when coughing and sneezing, and avoiding contact with people with flu-like symptoms. With the latest development today, we have shared awareness with parents as well and re-emphasised the point with the students in classes.”
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