Abu Dhabi: The Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) has confirmed that private schools can face up to Dh250,000 in fines for violating COVID-19 protocols.
Pupils in Grades 9 to 12 who are due to sit for international exams next year for their university placement were recently given the option to return to school premises starting from Sunday, September 27.
The warning comes on the same day that pupils in Sharjah returned to school following a six-month closure.
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To date, all students enrolled in Grade 6 or higher in Abu Dhabi schools have had to undertake distance learning since the start of the new school term five weeks ago.
Based on these guidelines, students in Grade 6 and upwards who do not have to attend exams related to university placements will continue distance learning until further notice.
Adek had earlier issued a comprehensive compliance manual and check-list to all education providers as part of the authorities' efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of students and staff. The education authority had also announced that penalties will be imposed against private schools in Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafra and Al Ain who do not conform with the requirements of reopening their premises in line with measures aimed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
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Inspection teams have so far carried out more than 520 visits to schools since the beginning of the current school year, as part of the authority’s monitoring efforts to ensure compliance within schools. According to the regulations, non-compliant schools will face warnings, penalties and even school closures if deemed necessary.
The department of education called on students' families to ensure their children take all the necessary precautions on a daily basis when stepping inside school premises, which include the constant washing and disinfection of hands, maintaining physical distancing, wearing a face mask at all times, and not sharing their belongings with others, such as water bottles, digital devices and books.
A dedicated compliance hotline 800 ADEK (800 2335) has been set up for parents and teaching staff to report any complaints and compliance issues. Adek has also assured it will investigate all registered complaints.
Criteria for reopened schools
According to Adek’s website, the policies and guidelines aim to ensure the safety in every aspect of a school’s operations. Schools are required to establish a COVID-19 taskforce composed of a response team, as well as relevant departments within the school, such as student affairs, human resources, academic affairs and community outreach.
The school’s COVID-19 taskforce shall ensure the following is completed prior to reopening:
- Conduct a general risk assessment for its reopening.
- Conduct individual risk assessments for all students of determination.
- Ensure that all school and staff licenses and insurances are valid and up to date.
- Cleaning and disinfection of the premises.
- Map circulation of transition areas.
- Placement of signs and off-limit areas.
- Installation of safety equipment and ensuring the stock of materials.
- Preparation of all spaces according to the relevant protocols.
- Verify that all staff and students have undergone COVID-19 testing.