Combating coronavirus: Nurseries in UAE seek guidelines for reopening in September
Dubai - Nursery owners said nearly 50 per cent of the institutions will have to shut down if they are not allowed to reopen.
Operators of nurseries in the UAE requested the authorities to issue guidelines for their reopening when the schools resume classes in September.
In a virtual Press meeting on Monday, nursery owners said nearly 50 per cent of the institutions will have to shut down if they are not allowed to reopen, voicing their concerns about the challenges.
They said with no rent reliefs in view of the Covid-19 situation, early learning centres and nurseries have started feeling the pressure as many of them had been asked to move out of their premises. Many of them have projected that around 10,000 nursery staffers will lose their jobs across the UAE if their nurseries and centres are not allowed to reopen by September.
While recreational centres, swimming pools, gyms, child-care centres and shisha cafes have all received guidance to reopen, nursery owners claimed they have not received any guidance or direction.
"Without some degree of business certainty - knowing when nurseries are allowed to reopen and under which conditions, more nurseries will be left with no choice but to close down in the coming weeks. Around 10 per cent of nurseries have already shut down in Dubai and if they are not allowed to reopen by September, nearly 50 to 75 per cent of them will face closure due to severe financial crises," said Umair Tariq, CEO of Middle East and Africa at Kido Education, a global group with operations in the UK, the US, Asia, and in the UAE.
"The three main areas where we are looking for guidance and support from relevant authorities are giving us a go ahead to open when schools reopen in September, provide us a set of guidelines for reopening similar to schools at the same capacity, and give us enough time to prepare for the reopening as schools have been given," added Tariq.
Shaun Robison, moderator of the Press meet and governor of Idea Nursery, said: "The nursery sector in Dubai needed Dh150 million in liquidity from March until August to have a chance of survival. This would have been 50 per cent of Term 3 fees for all nurseries which did not come at all. Since March, the nursery sector in Dubai has not received any support with liquidity. Therefore, the sector is at the risk of collapse, and there is Dh300 million impact overall, and it will be bigger if nurseries do not reopen at full capacity, like schools."
Lama Chivi, CEO of Babilou Middle East, the global group which operates over 500 nurseries in France and Europe, and 12 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, said: " From what we have noticed in our nurseries in other countries, parents of children who are very young were the most hesitant to send their kids. Therefore we have put in place strict safety measures in order to win their trust.
Diana Zeidan, area director for Odyssey Nursery, part of The Kids First Group, the largest group in the UAE, said: "All we are seeking is support for our sector similar to that given to other educational institutions. We will be hit "massively" if schools reopen before nurseries as parents will have to choose schools.
Earlier, answering to a question, Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) had said no announcement had been made about the opening date for nurseries and early learning centres. "We'll update these FAQs as soon as this changes. All early learning operating within schools can open," the KHDA said.
Safety measures planned
>Thorough sanitisation and deep cleaning of the nurseries
>Laser disinfection in classes when children are not around
>Thermal scanners and temperature checks
>Air purifier equipment
>Dividing classes in smaller groups
>Calling children at different timings so there is minimal contact between them and staff
>Ensuring that children do not move around to other areas
>Not allowing any visitors into the nursery
>Organising virtual tours for parents