Dubai: UAE’s drive to vaccinate school teachers and staff against COVID-19 is fast approaching 100 per cent, principals said, with some schools already reporting full vaccination.
Overall in Dubai, 70 per cent of teachers have taken their first or both the doses, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) revealed last Monday. In Sharjah, more than 82.2 per cent of teachers and administration staff at schools have taken their first dose, and more than 70.3 per cent have taken their second dose as well, Sharjah Private Education Authority said on April 22.
Dubai school principals said they faced no hardship in motivating staff to take the jab. Dubai British Foundation is one of the schools with all its staff vaccinated. Other schools in its cluster, Dubai British School Jumeirah Park (DBSJP) and Dubai British School Emirates Hills (DBS-EH) have 92 per cent vaccinated staff. The schools are part of the Taaleem education group.
‘Keen to participate’
Rebecca Coulter, vice-principal, DBSJP, said: “Our staff are fully supportive of the national vaccination drive and as such, have been keen to participate in the vaccination scheme. Taaleem have been instrumental in organising appointments to allow our staff to receive the vaccine. We also received individual recognition from KHDA for our efforts to ensure our staff are vaccinated and safe.”
‘Duty of care’
Isabelle Tonnesen, a class teacher at DBS-EH who has taken the vaccine, said: “As a teacher, I feel duty-bound to care for my students, parents and staff team. The pandemic is not over yet but the efficacy of the vaccine rollout is certainly a step in the right direction. I am proud to have made my mark by fighting against this seemingly unrelenting virus.”
DBS-EH principal Simon Jodrell said: “All staff — academic, auxiliary and administrative — at DBS-EH have been both keen and proud to be involved in the UAE’s vaccination drive. With more than 92 per cent of staff vaccinated, the DBS group has been incredibly successful in encouraging the vaccination.”
Lisa Johnson, principal, American Academy for Girls, said being vaccinated was also “a huge morale booster” for the school team. All its eligible staff have been vaccinated; the school has not had any positive staff cases for COVID-19 since March 1. Johnson added: “It was a bit like a celebratory field trip as we went as a group to get vaccinated. As educators, we have had to teach with a hybrid model and social distancing has dampened the spirit and liveliness that is at the heart of the school. The availability and variety of vaccines in the UAE has really provided the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Praise for UAE
Johnson said the foreign staff at the school felt “very fortunate” to live in the UAE during the pandemic. “The clear guidelines for safety procedures and availability of fast and economic testing, compared to many other countries, is a true point of pride for Dubai. Importantly, the rapid availability of free vaccines truly demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to the health of the citizenry.”
Virtually all (99.5 per cent) of eligible staff members at Uptown International School (UIS) too have taken the shot, said acting principal Pali Nahal. “At UIS, it has not been challenging for us to encourage teachers to take the vaccine. As an extra precautionary measure, we have also ensured all contracted staff, including cleaners and security staff, are vaccinated. We also extended the vaccination drive to offer the vaccine to our Grade 12 students.”
Jonathan Bramley, vice-president for communications at GEMS Education, the UAE’s biggest private school group, said across its network of 43 schools in the UAE, 94 per cent of all eligible employees have already been vaccinated. GEMS anticipates it will reach the 100 per cent mark within the next two weeks. Bramley said: “In January, we had rolled out our ‘I Chose to Vaccinate’ campaign, which has been highly successful in allaying any doubts around vaccines, communicating the importance and many advantages of being vaccinated, and encouraging all eligible staff to get inoculated as soon as possible.”
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He added: “Another significant factor in the success of our vaccination drive has been the guidance and support of UAE regulators and health authorities, especially in terms of prioritising vaccinations among education sector and frontline workers and helping to facilitate vaccinations for our staff.”