BC school nursery
Preparing your child for nursery Image Credit: Shutterstock

As Abu Dhabi schools get the go-ahead to resume in-classroom learning for the start of the 2020/21 academic year, results from a parents' survey done by Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) shows that families have mixed preferences when it comes to the return to school.

Abu Dhabi parents' survey results helped to inform school guidelines

ADEK used findings from a survey of Abu Dhabi private school parents to help inform its decision regarding the resumption of teaching in the new academic term, which asked families for their opinions on schools reopening, as well as their preferences on duration and format of school days and transportation for the upcoming term.

ADEK received responses from 63% of Abu Dhabi Private School parents on the survey, which showed that just under half (45%) of parents are willing to send their child to school, with 21% undecided on their preferred school reopening model for the coming academic year 2020/21. A third of respondents (34%) said they are willing to continue distance learning, because it enables them to manage their time more efficiently.

There was a slightly higher percentage of Emirati parents (39%) preferring the distance learning option compared to expat parents (33%) which could be due to the fact that the Emirati families surveyed have more household childcare assistance (74% versus 26% expats) and are more likely to be living with one or more vulnerable people (66% Emirati compared to 31% expat families).

Of the 45% of parents who support a return to in-classroom operations, 34% prefer a full-day return, while 16% prefer a half-day model, citing a balance between safety and learning.

The survey also indicated that the number of children expected to travel to school by bus for the new term will only decrease marginally, with 40% of parents saying they plan to avail of the services, down from 46% in the 2019/20 academic year.

The survey also showed that at least 85% of both expat and Emirati families do not intend to move their children to a new school.

Three basic preventative measures outlined for return to in-class teaching

As part of its decision to reopen schools, ADEK has issued a comprehensive set of policies and guidelines to help schools to ensure the safest possible return for the emirate's students and teachers. The guidelines highlight three basic precautionary measures, including social distancing, where schools are requested to organize time and space to minimize interactions between people; protective equipment, where schools are requested to install appropriate equipment, screens, partitions and other protective measures; and maintaining the highest hygiene standards, with schools requested to regularly disinfect and clean all areas.

Following the release of the policies and guidelines, as well as the parents’ survey results, ADEK has asked schools to announce their reopening models by 30 July 2020 to enable parents to take an informed decision about where they wish to enrol their children for the new academic year.

ADEK has also issued a Parents’ Guide, which provides a full run-down of the reopening guidelines to help families understand all of the measures that have been put in place.