Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC). Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 at university in Dubai must be isolated instantly and referred for a PCR test, the newly released ‘Protocols for the Reopening of Higher Education Institutions [HEI] in Dubai’ said on Monday.

The 118-point protocol, announced by Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), said such a person “should not return to HEI until the result is obtained. Even if the result is negative and there is a clinical assessment of a probable COVID-19 case, the person should commence a 14-day quarantine.”

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Meanwhile, confirmed positive cases “are not to return unless they are granted a clearance certificate by DHA [Dubai Health Authority] stating that they are discharged from isolation”.

Monday’s 15-page document follows on from a similar KHDA circular for the reopening of schools announced in JulWhat are the protocols?

The guidelines are categorised under various topics, covering everything from health and safety to food and transport. The following are some of the protocols listed in the document:


“The HEI has to ensure academic online provision for all the students who are unable to attend their classes physically (due to health condition, isolated, quarantines, etc),” the document says.

Entry procedures

As expected, all persons on campus must wear a mask at all times. Everyone must pass thermal screening before entering the campus, including riders before boarding the provided bus service.

Also, access cards and machines should be disinfected after every use. Moreover, the HEI “should implement a staggered entry and exit procedure to eliminate overcrowding and to maintain the two-metre physical distancing in high traffic common areas”.


Common areas such as toilets, pantry, waiting areas, should be cleaned and disinfected every hour or following every use. This includes door handles, dining tables, seat rests, buttons in lifts, etc.

If possible, a person’s bags and shoes should be sprayed with sanitiser upon arrival. Universities and other HEIs are also encouraged to go paperless as much as possible to minimise contacts.

Social distancing

There must be a dedicated isolation room and set procedures to handle COVID-19 suspect or confirmed cases.

In the classroom, a 1.5-metre distance should be maintained between students. In other areas, there should be a 2-metre distancing.

“During break times, staff and students will be required to sit with a distance of two metres between them when eating. Pantries can be opened for usage by individuals strictly for food and drink consumption, maintaining two-meter physical distancing. No buffets or other forms of gatherings are allowed,” the guidelines add. Shared showers and changing rooms will stay closed.

Also disallowed until further notice are in-person conferences, seminars, sports tournaments, festivals, holiday events, special performances, group activities such as trips, celebrations, and student camps.

Food and drinks

The HEI can continue catering services provided it is based on pre-packaged food, while following Dubai Municipality guidelines related to catering services.

“Water dispensers are not allowed. The HEI may offer sanitised water bottles. No buffets or other forms of gatherings are allowed. Food delivery services are not to enter the premises.”

If the campus has a food court or hosts food outlets, Dubai Municipality’s relevant guidelines for cafés and restaurants should be followed while staying open.

Sports and exercise

During sports, all persons have to practice social distancing of at least one metre. Students and coaches don’t have to wear masks “when engaged in strenuous physical activities such as running and workouts”.

Campuses that have gyms and sports facilities must follow the Dubai Sports Council Protocol announced earlier; swimming pools will remain closed until further notice.

Also closed are prayer rooms on campus. Meanwhile, labs, studios and libraries can stay open while following the rules.