Stock School classroom students
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Dubai: New precautionary measures have been announced by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), for private and charter schools, for the 2021-22 academic year.

The measures were announced by ADEK, in close coordination with Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee and health authorities, and in line with existing precautionary measures.

The main updates to the precautionary measures and policies include:

1. Resumption of communal play areas, live cooking in school canteens, physical education and extra-curricular programmes.

Communal areas vital to interaction and socialisation will reopen, including play areas for younger students. Cooking will be permitted as long as food is served by designated staff members and as per Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority regulations, such as serving food in individual portions.

Students are also set to resume Physical Education (PE) classes and sports including swimming with special arrangements and adaptations based on risk assessment, with schools required to sanitise recreational areas and equipment between groups.

Extracurricular activities for a school’s own students will also resume, providing schools complete a risk assessment and implement safe operation policies, including physical distancing and mask-wearing. The rental of school sports facilities to outside parties remains suspended.

2. Physical distancing has been reduced from 1.5 metre to one metre, to enable more students to access face-to-face learning.

3. Bubble sizes for students from kindergarten to Grade 2/Year 3 will increase to 16 students.

Schools will continue operating macrobubbles for the new academic year to reduce the risk and magnitude of Covid-19 transmission among school groups and reduce shifts to distance learning. Class bubble sizes for younger students in Kindergarten and Cycle 1 (Grade 2/Year 3 and below) who do not practise social distancing has been increased from 10 to 16 students per bubble.

4. To attend on-campus classes, students aged 16 years and above must be fully vaccinated or have an official exemption, or they must have received the first dose of the vaccine within four weeks of their birthday.

According to the new policy, as of August 20, all students aged 16 and above must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed entry to schools. According to ADEK, the vaccinations must be verified on the Al Hosn app prior to returning to school at the start of the academic year.

5. All staff must be vaccinated to enter school premises unless they have an exemption. Those considered high risk must also sign a medical risk undertaking form.

6. Distance learning must be available for high-risk students and any unvaccinated student aged 16+. Any student can choose distance learning, if their school offers it.