UAE: First full 100% learning in campuses as education returns to pre-pandemic levels

Schools carefully planned a safe, full reopening this October

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Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 10 Dec 2021, 8:58 AM

As students head for their winter break, starting Sunday, education institutions across the UAE operated at 100 per cent capacity for the past two-and-a-half months, with children edging back to a pre-pandemic learning environment.

Schools guided by their education regulators in the UAE, carefully planned a safe, full reopening this October.

A significant part of the reopening plans was to understand and address the impact the pandemic had on pupils’ individual educational, social and emotional needs.

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School activities began again, including field trips, extra-curricular activities and community events, following all required health and safety guidelines.

Archana Sagar, Amity Private School Sharjah Principal, said, “Identifying learning gaps and plugging them in within a limited time was a challenge. However, it has been great to see students embrace on-campus learning over the last few months. Safety protocols and measures will continue to be taken to ensure that students are in a safe and secure environment. Learning is more interactive and enjoyable when done in person. Students have enjoyed a range of events, assemblies, activities and field trips this term, which has helped bring back a sense of normalcy to education and learning in the UAE.”

Head teachers opine it was heartening to watch the school’s corridors buzzing with laughter over the past few months.

Simon Herbert, Head of School/CEO, GEMS International School - Al Khail, avers, “Although still a meter apart and masked, students have enjoyed a return to an educational experience reminiscent of pre-pandemic times. The grass shoots of team sport have started to grow and schools are enjoying a flourishing of extra-curricular activities. We enjoyed a Winter Fest recently, approved by the authorities and it was an absolute joy to see families relishing the chance to be part of a community in person again.”

Experts underline research skills, social skills, self-management, communication skills and thinking skills could once again be enjoyed face-to-face, which enhances well being through an in-person collaboration with peers, as opposed to constant screen time.

Antony Koshy, Principal, Global Indian International School, Dubai says, “I would like to place my appreciation to KHDA for having resumed 100 per cent onsite education since 3 Oct’2021. The operational difficulties of Blended classrooms are gone and we are able to engage students in more hands-on experiences. Social interactions have made a comeback and their mental and physical well-being are being better taken care of now.

Children are happier, now that they are with their friends! We are already seeing positive changes among students and also the guidance provided to them. The monitoring and tracking of student progress has also improved in effectiveness than during the online/blended scenario.”

Meanwhile, teachers are persevering to reverse learning loss, as sudden school closures had forced educators to make an emergency pivot to online classes.

Abigail Fishbourne, School Improvement Partner, International Schools Partnership (ISP) says, “Our teachers have skillfully assessed pupils to understand where they are currently working and identified any areas that need re-teaching or where pupils would benefit from covering content in face-to-face lessons. In some instances, additional classes, changes in curriculum modeling and enhanced cross curriculum learning opportunities are in place to support raising rates of progress.”

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