Abu Dhabi: A new Abu Dhabi regulation that requires parents to present negative COVID-19 test results when visiting school premises has left many in a quandary.
The regulation has been specified by Abu Dhabi education regulator, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), in a guidebook that details children’s return to school from August 30 onwards.
“Parents will not be allowed inside the school premises, unless they are supporting a Student of Determination. Exceptions can be made to allow one parent to accompany a KG or early Cycle 1 student, if needed. However, the parent will need to have a negative COVID-19 test result with 72 hours validity,” the regulation states.
Parents of young children concerned
Many parents sending children to school for the first time next Sunday are concerned that the regulation will not allow them to settle children in their new environments.
One parent sending her children to school for the first time said the requirement was very difficult to keep up with, in addition to being expensive. She added that school staff are not going to be tested as often, so the ruling for parents to shell out more nearly Dh400 to simply see the inside of a school building wasn’t practical.
Another teacher whose child is also set to start schooling in the upcoming term said she too would not be able to see her own child to the classroom.
The requirement is also causing concern among parents with special needs, and those with young children joining new schools this semester.
One mother with a non-verbal son said she had asked to discuss matters with school management so that she could come up with a workable solution.
But other parents are happy about Adek’s rigour with regard to school safety.
“We’ve decided to keep our five-year-old at home for the first two weeks at least, and see how this plays out. If we do decide to send him to school, I know these regulations will help assure me that schools will be as safe as possible in these unprecedented circumstances,” a father-of-two told Gulf News.
Teaching and learning across the UAE had been carried out remotely during the previous term in order to limit the COVID-19 outbreak. In late July, the Adek approved a return to in-class learning for the upcoming term, and has been regularly updating guidelines to ensure a safe return to school for all.
With schools implementing safety precautions, including regular temperature checks for all and learning bubbles for smaller students, many parents say they are comfortable sending children back to school.
The requirement for a COVID-19 negative test result for parents is an update to earlier Adek regulations. In its first iteration, Adek guidelines had said parents were not allowed to enter school premises, unless they were supporting a special needs child or it was deemed necessary support for a child in kindergarten.
There are also other regulations guiding entry to school. These specify that only one parent/guardian can accompany children outside the entrance to the school, and that a non-contact temperature screening will be performed before entry. In addition, anyone accompanying a child in the entry queue must be wearing a mask.
Distance learning permitted
Meanwhile, in cases where families want to be extra cautious, they are allowed to opt for full-time distance learning for children during the upcoming term.
“Parents have to commit for the full term to the method that they have chosen. Schools will be flexible during the first two weeks after physical reopening and will accommodate for changes,” the Adek guide to parents has specified.