Dubai: Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management on Monday announced the gradual return to full in-person learning in private schools in the upcoming 2021-22 academic year, which starts August 29.
Private schools will continue offering students in-person learning while also providing the option for remote learning. Starting October 3, 2021, all private schools will return to full in-person learning.
More than 96 per cent of teaching staff and 70 per cent of children aged 12 to 17 in Dubai have been vaccinated. Strict adherence to precautionary measures will ensure the success of full in-person learning model, officials said.
Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management, said the Dubai government is keen to ensure the highest levels of readiness for the educational sector at the beginning of the new academic year.
Active campus life
The committee also decided to allow schools to conduct various activities in its premises provided it maintains stringent compliance with precautionary measures that ensure the highest levels of health and safety for students and staff. Strict adherence to safety protocols will ensure the success of the full in-person learning model in private schools, the committee said.
The decision adopted on Monday at a supreme committee meeting chaired by Sheikh Mansour follows the rapid progress achieved by Dubai in its plan to return to normalcy and the high immunisation rates achieved by the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Parents and schools consulted
The committee adopted the decision after extensive consultation with parents and school operators. The high vaccination rates among teaching staff and schoolchildren aged also supported the decision.
Sheikh Mansour said the committee’s decision forms part of a comprehensive emirate-wide strategic plan to accelerate recovery from the pandemic without compromising on high precautionary standards.
Leadership’s directives and follow-up
The decision also reflects Dubai’s effective COVID-19 measures and successful vaccination campaign as well as efforts to ease the pandemic’s economic and social repercussions, under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and the follow-up of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.
Call for cooperation
Sheikh Mansour added that the move is a proactive step to accelerate Dubai’s return to normalcy. The committee has directed authorities to work closely with Dubai's educational community to ensure streamlined compliance with precautionary measures and health protocols.
During the meeting, he also reviewed KHDA’s plans and preparedness for ensuring students and staff in the private school sector enjoy a safe environment in the new academic year. The concerted efforts and cooperation of everyone in the educational ecosystem is critical to ensuring that private schools can offer in-person learning in a safe environment, Sheikh Mansour stressed.
The committee will continue to evaluate the progress of in-person learning and monitor various COVID-19 related indicators to ensure there is no compromise on the levels of protection provided in schools.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has set up a webpage announcing the changes. Here are the excerpts from its ‘Frequently Asked Questions – Schools’
Provided schools comply with health and safety protocols, the following activities may also resume:
-School trips, excursions and camps
-After-hours extra-curricular activities
-Performances, assemblies and other events at school or at an external venue
Can students continue with distance learning this academic year?
From the start of the academic year until September 30, parents will have the choice of distance learning or face-to-face learning for their children. From October 3, 2021, all teaching and learning at Dubai private schools will be face-to-face only. After this date, students who wish to continue with distance learning must provide a medical certificate issued by Dubai Health Authority. Class groups or grade/year levels may temporarily switch to distance learning if positive cases of COVID-19 are detected.
Does the 1.5-metre physical distancing still apply at schools?
From this academic year, one-metre distancing is recommended. Schools must take appropriate precautions to ensure that students and teachers stay physically distanced where possible.
Are face masks compulsory in the new academic year?
Yes. Students older than six years, staff and visitors to schools must continue to wear face masks.
GATHERINGS & EVENTS
What kind of events can resume at school?
Assemblies, performances, rehearsals and events can take place, in line with Dubai Health Authority guidelines.
Can schools organise events in external venues?
Yes, schools can organise events in external venues. All relevant health and safety protocols must be followed.
Will buses run at full capacity?
Yes, buses may run at fully capacity, provided they comply with health and safety protocols around sanitisation and ventilation, among others.
Is it compulsory for school staff and students older than 16 to have a Covid-19 vaccine?
Vaccination is not compulsory. Eligible school staff who do not wish to have the vaccine must submit a negative PCR test each week. Students are not obliged to submit negative PCR tests.