Distance learning
Distance learning Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Parents in Abu Dhabi with children enrolled in private schools will be allowed to opt for distance learning during the upcoming school term.

This is a departure from the previous guidelines, which required all students to receive some form of in-class learning from August 30 onwards.

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“Responding to a strong call from parents who prefer continuing distance learning for their children, Adek has approved the option of full-time distance learning for the upcoming term. We have also dedicated a hotline which parents can use to report and address any concerns: 800-COMPLIANC(E)/800-266754262,” the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), the emirate’s education sector regulator, confirmed to Gulf News.

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The previous school term in the UAE was also carried out through distance learning in a bid to limit the coronavirus outbreak.

Parents’ reservations

Last month, the Adek had approved children’s return to school campuses next term after 45 per cent of parents responding to a survey had indicated that they were willing to send their children to school.

However, since then, a number of parents have expressed reservations about the return to school, especially for younger children. As Gulf News reported yesterday, many families are also wondering about the coverage and scheduling for COVID-19 tests, which are mandatory for all students going back to school in Abu Dhabi emirate.

Welcome change in guidelines

Meanwhile, school leaders have greeted the changed guidelines on distance learning.

“Nearly 95 per cent of our parents had said they preferred to keep children at home, so this update is very welcome,” a principal at an Indian curriculum school in the capital has said.

Another principal said only parents with children in the higher grades appeared comfortable sending children back to school.

Ali Al Mazroui, school owner at the American curriculum Virginia Private School, said more parents are easing up to in-class learning as time passes.

“Given the new directions by Adek, we will of course offer the option to continue distance learning, while also implementing stringent safety measures for those returning to the school premises next term,” he said.

What about homeschooling?

Due to worries about children’s exposure to COVID-19, some families were considering pulling out their children from school next term and homeschooling them. But the Adek had previously warned parents against homeschooling.

In the Parents Guide to School Reopening, the authority had said “it is mandatory for all children of school-going age to be enrolled in school for Academic Year 2020/21”.

“If you choose not to enroll your child in a school, and instead homeschool him/her, you take the risk that your child will need to repeat the grade once he is back in the system,” the Adek said.

Distance learning therefore appears to be the safest option for families who are keen on children continuing their learning during the ongoing pandemic.

School fees unchanged

The Adek has also clarified that the choice of distance learning will not affect school fees in the upcoming term.

“Full tuition fee will apply to students, regardless of the mode of attendance and reopening model followed by the school,” the Adek had said in the school reopening guidelines.