NAT DHABI SCHOOL-1642688395163
Children queuing up for temperature checks during entry to The Model School Abu Dhabi. File photo for illustrative purpose only

Abu Dhabi: Following three weeks of mandatory distance learning, students in Abu Dhabi emirate will begin returning to school and university campuses in phases, starting from Monday, January 24 onwards.

The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee for the COVID-19 Pandemic announced the school return decision on Wednesday, in line with directives issued by the National Crisis, Emergencies and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).

The announcement was greeted by families and educators alike, with students expressing excitement about finally being back in the classroom.

Winter break

Schools and educational institutions in the UAE began their winter break on December 12. Shortly before the start of the new term on January 3, authorities announced that students would resume classes through distance learning for the first two weeks. This remote learning period was extended for an additional week until January 21 in a bid to ensure the safety of all schoolchildren and educators, especially as many families had travelled outside the UAE during the vacation.

Student requirements

In addition to Wednesday’s announcement on the return to in-class learning next week, the NCEMA also mandated PCR testing for students and educators. Abu Dhabi emirate’s private and charter schools regulator, the Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), followed suit and laid out the requirements for students and educators to resume in-person classes. This includes mandatory PCR testing every two weeks for school attendees in the emirate’s 222 private and charter schools, and a temporary suspension on external field trips.

The authority has also said that distance learning will remain an option for the remainder of the term, but that this will need to communicated with the school.

Other precautions

Schools will, meanwhile, continue to implement other precautionary measures, including the use of face masks for children from Grade 1 onwards, regular sanitisation, and the organisation of children in macrobubbles. At the same time, the Adek, which has mandated vaccinations for all educators, school staff and third party contractors, is also continuing to encourage voluntary vaccination of all students in the school community.

Safety guidelines
Here are all the measures you need to be familiar with if your child is enrolled at an Abu Dhabi school.
When can my child resume face-to-face learning?
On Monday, January 24, students in the following groups and grade levels will return to campuses:
-kindergarten-level (FS level in British curriculum) students
-primary school students (Grades 1 to 5, or Year 2 to 6)
-Grade 12 (Year 13) students
-students studying for international or board exams
-students at institutes of higher education
Other students will return to school campuses from Monday, January 31 onwards, including:
-students in middle and high school (Grades 6 to 11, or Year 7 to Year 12)

Distance learning

Will distance learning be an option after my child’s school resumes face-to-face classes?

Distance learning will still be an option throughout the term for those who choose it, but the school must offer this option, and the decision to continue distance learning must be discussed with the school ahead of time. The chosen model of learning will also apply to the child for the remainder of the term, and cannot be changed afterwards.

Do I have to submit any documents and forms to facilitate my child’s return to school?

Travel declaration form: Fill out and sign a travel declaration form, providing details of any international travel you have undertaken over the winter break. If you have returned from travel, also submit negative PCR test results taken on Day 1 and Day 6 after your return to the UAE.

PCR test

You have to ensure that your child undertakes a PCR test in the 96 hours before the first day of return to school. A negative test result must then be submitted to the school. For children returning to school on January 24, the Adek has recommended testing between Thursday and Saturday in order to ensure that test results are available on time.

Do I have to pay for my child’s PCR test?

All Abu Dhabi students can take free-of-charge PCR tests at any private or public clinic, hospital, or drive through test center without the need to present a designated school code.

Saliva-based testing will also be offered by a number of centres in the emirate for students aged less than 12 years.

Does my child have to undergo routine testing while attending school in person?

All children and staff attending school in person who are vaccinated against COVID-19, or are exempt for vaccination, will have to undertake a PCR test every two weeks.

Will schools organise activities for children apart from regular classes?

Sports and cultural activities will be organised under approved measures. All school trips will however be suspended for the moment.

Can I visit my child’s school or university?

All parents must present a green pass on Alhosn, and a negative PCR test result with 96-hour validity, in order to be allowed on to school premises.