Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi students who are attending school in person must periodically present negative COVID-19 PCR tests.
The regular tests are mandatory for students aged 12 years and older, and will be offered free of charge on designated dates and locations for each school, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) announced on Monday. In addition, teachers and staff will also have to screen for COVID-19 via PCR every two weeks and present negative results.
The announcement followed the resumption of face-to-face learning on February 14, amid strict precautionary measures, at 222 private and charter schools in the emirate. The Adek, education sector regulator, has already scheduled 220 inspection visits during the first week of school in order to ensure school compliance and curb the spread of COVID-19 within the school community.
Sunday marked the first time in nearly a year that Abu Dhabi students enrolled from Grades 6 to 8 were able to attend schools physically, as authorities in the emirate opted for a phased return to school after the COVID-19 outbreak shuttered school campuses in March 2020.
After allowing students in some grades to opt for face-to-face learning last term, the Adek mandated six weeks of distance learning for all from January onwards. At the same time, it conducted a 10-day drive to vaccinate 60 per cent of staff, numbering more than 15,000 people, in the education sector. Students were finally welcomed back to campuses yesterday, even as institutions in Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain switch to remote learning.
Distance learning option
Families in Abu Dhabi can still continue to opt for distance learning for their children. Those who send children back to school will have to ensure that older children undergo the regular COVID-19 screenings, and must also pay out of pocket if they get the test on a date, or at a location, other than the one designated for the school.
Other mandated preventive measures include face masks for children enrolled in Grade 1 or higher, and 1.5 metres physical distancing all times. Those returning from outside the UAE must also abide by all regulated precautions.
Meanwhile, students, staff and educators with chronic health conditions can now return to school, but must present a medical fitness certificate, as well as a signed risk undertaking form acknowledging their understanding of the COVID-19 related health challenges.