The survey is aimed at finding out if parents are comfortable with sending their children to school or still want distance learning Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) has rolled out a comprehensive survey to gauge parents’ opinions on sending children back to school after the summer break.

The survey has been launched after the Ministry of Education’s announcement on the potential reopening of educational institutions, which were closed in March to limit the coronavirus outbreak. Following the closure, schools and universities adopted distance education models to continue learning in the current term.

In a statement, the Adek said parents and students will play a major role alongside it to shape a safe return to in-class education.

“Adek will ensure Abu Dhabi parents have their say on specific variables via a comprehensive and anonymous survey, which will be run in collaboration with schools,” the statement said.

“ADEK is fully aligned with the Ministry of Education on the potential reopening of schools in September and we look forward to welcoming back our community of students, teachers, staff and parents. At the same time, we are conscious of the ongoing impact the last few months have had on families, so we want to hear parental feedback and concerns about sending their children back to school as their opinion matters very much,” said Sara Musallam, Adek chairperson.

“We are launching this survey to aggregate insights, which will shape the different schools’ return to classroom operations as we continue navigating the new normal together,” she added.

Educational authorities and private school leaders announced last week that they were ready to reopen schools with a range of precautionary measures in place.

Option available

In her statement, Musallam said parents would be able to opt for distance learning if they felt that their children are still unsafe when schools reopen.

“I know how hard schools and parents have been working to enable students to learn at home, and they all deserve tremendous appreciation for their efforts. However, nothing can replace a classroom setting and, as we prepare for the new academic year, we have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff. If after schools reopen, some parents still feel unsafe about sending their children back to school, they will always have the option of distance learning. I would urge parents to get involved in that process by completing the survey to ensure every student in Abu Dhabi has the safest and best possible return to class”, she added.

As Gulf News reported this week, many parents across the UAE have asked to continue distance learning until the coronavirus outbreak has been resolved. They have also called for fee discounts to support families facing job losses and salary reductions during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Adek survey covers a range of topics, from the number of children per household and how they usually travel to and from school, to preferences on school reopening, duration and format of school day, and whether parents intend to send their children to school. The research will also consider how families were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and what level of financial support their school has offered in recent times.

Adek also explained that reopening models may look different for each school based on their situation, while the provision of continued distance learning will cater for parents who prefer this model due to personal situations. Each school will receive reopening guidelines for safe operations, teaching and learning and staff and student wellbeing. The guidelines have been developed according to leading global practices for safe reopening of schools and with input from extensive consultations with stakeholders. To date, ADEK has conducted extensive stakeholder meetings on the subject with school principals, parents and teachers.