Blocked roads, no electricity: Many UAE schools opt for hybrid learning as students, teachers grapple with floods

On Sunday, the KHDA urged all Dubai private schools, universities, and nurseries to continue distance learning for students facing challenges


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 21 Apr 2024, 4:18 PM

Last updated: Sun 21 Apr 2024, 9:39 PM

Many schools in the UAE may switch to a hybrid mode of learning this week as they track students and staff numbers every day after the intense rainfall in the UAE adversely impacted the country on 16 April.

Meanwhile, most Sharjah schools and a few institutions in Dubai will continue with only distance learning, similar to last week.

This comes after residential areas and access roads especially in Sharjah, continue to experience water logging, making it difficult for students and staff to commute.

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School buses unable to ply

Pramod Mahajan, Principal, Sharjah Indian School, said, “At our end the school is ready, all the cleaning has taken place and whatever damages happened due to the heavy rain, have been cleared out and fixed. Schools are ready to welcome students back. But there is still a lot of water logging in many places. Due to this it will be very difficult for children to be picked up and dropped off by the school transport.”

He explained his reservations about keeping onsite learning open on Monday. “We currently have 89 bus routes, but 53 of them are unsafe for transportation due to knee-deep water. However, the situation is rapidly improving. With over 10,000 students, conducting onsite classes is not feasible, especially considering that many of our staff and students reside in areas still affected by waterlogging and lack of electricity. Additionally, stagnant water for the past four to five days poses health risks and could lead to the spread of diseases.”

On Sunday, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) urged all Dubai private schools, universities, and nurseries to continue distance learning for students facing logistical challenges in the aftermath of the recent severe weather conditions across the UAE.

Access roads blocked in Al Quoz

Certain schools in Dubai, especially those in the Al Quoz area where water logging persists, have already issued circulars to parents, informing them that online classes will begin on Monday, similar to last week.

The circular stated, “Please be informed that tomorrow, Monday 22/04/2024, the school will continue with remote learning. The school is fully prepared to welcome all our students but unfortunately, the access roads to the school are currently blocked due to waterlogging. Additionally, many of our teachers from Sharjah are unable to travel due to road disruptions caused by the exceptional weather conditions experienced last week.”

Adaptable learning approach

Headteachers stressed proactively planning to implement a more adaptable learning approach for the upcoming week in response to the recent storm's impact on school communities.

Hitesh Bhagat, Principal, Dubai International Academy (DIAEH) said, “While our campus at DIA Emirates Hills was thankfully spared from significant damage caused by the severe weather, we recognize that many of our staff and students have been affected in their own homes. Therefore, we made the decision to introduce a hybrid learning model to accommodate the diverse needs of our community members. The safety of our entire school community is always our first priority.”

Educators emphasise safety and well-being of students and staff remain top priorities in any decision and institutions are in close contact with the regulators in each emirate, following their guidance.

Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said, “We have successfully completed our cleanup and repair efforts in many of our schools to restore our classrooms, playgrounds, and learning spaces for the safe return of students and teachers, providing road access is also clear.

He added, “Work continues around the clock to prepare our remaining schools for reopening and each has informed its parent community of its situation, to give them as much time as possible to prepare for either continued remote learning or return to the classroom, as the case may be.”

They pointed out the school's leadership and facilities teams have been committed to restoring operational efficiency at the earliest.

Deputy Director of Education, Director of IB, UK & US Schools said, “While some schools have sustained only minor, superficial damage, others may have experienced more significant impacts. As always, the safety of our students and their well-being is our first priority, and this remains the case in us assessing the readiness of each school. Principals and their teams will continue to review their individual school’s situation and keep parents fully apprised of developments in their school.”


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