School Dubai
Dubai private schools will end all distance learning by October 3 Image Credit: Muhammed Nahas/Gulf News

As the world continues to grapple with the persistent coronavirus, the UAE is steadily returning to normality thanks to the combination of successful efforts by the authorities to mitigate the risks and the public commitment to the COVID-19 protocols.

The latest sign of return to normal life is the decision by Dubai Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management to reopen private schools fully to in-person education from October 3.

The school year is set to begin next week, on August 29, with the current hybrid model where students are offered the option of online learning. However, one month after, schools will return to full in-person education, the committee noted.

The welcome move is “a proactive step to accelerate Dubai’s return to normality,” Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the committee said. It also reflects the emirate’s effective measures against the virus including its successful vaccination campaign. Sheikh Mansoor noted that this step is also aimed at easing the pandemic’s economic and social impact.

But most importantly, and to ensure the success of this significant step and a safe and healthy environment, all the stakeholders — schools, parents and students must strictly comply with the necessary precautionary protocols.

A revised safety protocol has been announced by the emirate’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) to enjoy a risk-free learning experience.

The protocols include the regular social distance rule, wearing face masks for pupils older than 6 years, all staff and visitors, in addition to the regular sanitising of class and learning material. Vaccination is encouraged for everyone, especially students over 12 year old but it is not compulsory.

School staff who have yet to be vaccinated need to show a negative PCR test each week. According to the supreme committee, around 96 per cent of teachers and more than 70 per cent students aged 12-17 are actually vaccinated, which is one of the highest rates in the world.

In another welcome step, KHDA said that school buses can now run at fully capacity, with of course a strict adherence to the health and safety guidelines.

The past 20 months have been extremely challenging for the education system, especially for working parents who had to ensure a smooth online learning for their children. Students have lost valuable school environment, which is an essential part of the learning process.

Monday’s decision not only signifies our steady return to normal life but also offers a much needed relief for families, schools and students.