Abu Dhabi: With school set to open in less than a month on August 30, parents have voiced their concerns about safety, as well as the mandatory PCR tests children must present.
A number of parents speaking to Gulf News said they still did not know when children would have to undergo tests for the coronavirus, as well as who would bear the cost.
“I have to prepare my children to head back to school, including speaking to them about social distancing, wearing masks, and washing their hands regularly. But I also want to know where and when I can take my daughters for COVID-19 testing, and what the cost will be. With three children, it can be a hefty amount unless we are provided discounts,” T Ahmad, 41, a senior document controller from India, told Gulf News.
Mandatory COVID-19 tests
Prior to the Eid break, Abu Dhabi’s education regulator, the Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) announced the resumption of in-class learning from August 30 onwards. A set of guidelines sent to private school operators also specified that children, as well as all staff members, must be tested for COVID-19 before returning to school, and that the reports must be shared with school authorities.
Details on coverage, schedules and process are expected to be announced by the Adek, in collaboration with relevant authorities.
Despite this, many parents are still anxious about the return to school. They explained that younger children are unlikely to be able to stay fully safe.
Worries about safety
“My son is enrolled in Grade 10 at a British curriculum school for the upcoming year, and I am worried about sending him back. There is complete chaos because of the pandemic even in developed nations, and no one knows what is going to happen next. So I am naturally concerned about safety,” an Emirati parent said.
His son’s school has adopted an alternating model in which a designated group of students will attend school in person for two weeks, then spend the next two weeks in distance learning while a second group avails of in-person learning at school.
Another Sri Lankan parent said his son’s school had organised a virtual meeting for parents in the week before Eid, but that he was anxious to have his five-year-old return to school, even with safety measures in place.
“We have been extremely safe thus far, keeping the kids home throughout. I only hope the return to school won’t have us contracting COVID-19,” he said.
Preference for distance learning
Naghma Mehboob, 41, said her children’s Indian curriculum school had allowed her to choose between distance and in-class learning.
“I opted to continue distance learning. My daughter is in Grade 9, and I would be less worried if she had to go back to school. But my son is only in Grade 4, and I cannot expect him to be as careful as is required. So I am happy that the school has prepared for distance learning in the upcoming term,” she said.