Covid in UAE: Smooth start at Abu Dhabi schools as new term resumes with remote education

Teachers have been given refresher training in safeguarding, expectations, and using the platforms during full-time online learning



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File
by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 3 Jan 2022, 5:06 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Jan 2022, 5:14 PM

All Abu Dhabi school pupils have resumed the second term with remote learning from Monday, January 3. According to school principals, the first day of school has moved on smoothly since students were familiar with online classes.

Remote learning in all Abu Dhabi's public and private schools is expected to continue for two weeks following an earlier announcement by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee as a "precautionary measure to limit the spread of Covid-19 and maintain low infection rates in the emirate.

Allison McDonald, Principal of Al Basma British School, Al Bahya says the return to online schooling has gone well so far at her school. All children from Nursery to Year 13 are receiving a vast majority of live lessons across the full curriculum.

"All live lessons are recorded and posted to our online platforms; Seesaw and Google Classroom along with a small number of pre-recorded lessons for our primary students to provide flexibility to our families where siblings are sharing devices, parents are working, or there are several students for parents to support. This also helps parents manage screen time throughout the day," she said.

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"The fact that almost all of our children have been full time online with us before or other providers previously has ensured that the move to full time online has been a smooth one."

According to McDonald, teachers have been given refresher training in safeguarding, expectations, and using the platforms during full-time online learning.

"Online parent training is planned for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening regarding use of the online platforms with different age groups, how parents can support and structure the day for their children whilst learning online and how they can support their child's safety whilst working online, she said adding that the school has adopted its new working hours, timetable and working week to familiarise the children into the new schedule before they return for full time face to face learning.

Salman Ahmed Khan, Vice-Principal of Islamiya English School Abu Dhabi said amidst all confusions and queries from the parents, the first day at school still went well because of timely and necessary preparations.

"Our school has reopened today with new year's spirit infused but blended with a little disappointment of not welcoming the students physically," he said.

"We sincerely support the UAE govt in its efforts to curb and smother the spread of the pandemic. Though we were prepared for the complete face-to-face learning alternate timetable, necessary arrangements were also made for a dire emergency of online teaching."

Khan believes remote learning has been a helpful alternative tool, "but there is no substitute for on-campus teaching and learning with thorough involvement of all stakeholders."

Mohamad Saad, Principal of AJYAL International School, MBZ, Abu Dhabi says, the school hadn't stopped using their online platform (MS Teams) during first term teaching and learning, and that's why they have been able to apply online learning smoothly.

"This morning, though, there have been issues with the platform (apparently worldwide) that has caused log in/connectivity issues. But all in all, at AJYAL International School, MBZ, Abu Dhabi, things have gone well on the first day, and we hope to continue that way over the course of the two weeks, after which we hope teaching and learning returns to face-to-face mode," said Saad.

Anna Pagdiwalla, principal of Mayoor Private School said all their staff and students had been excited to start the new term; however, "a few students are disheartened as they were looking forward to attending the school in person. They are missing the school life, their teachers and friends."

According to Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee, testing campaigns will be ramped up during the first two weeks of the second term for school staff, and the situation will be monitored in preparation for the return to face-to face learning.


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