Dubai: A woman wearing a medical mask and carrying cleaning materials entered a Dubai school and left behind some detergent, causing “panicked” staff to call police and send students home early, police said on Wednesday.
Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Dubai Police chief, explained that a student’s mother left a powder in a room used to store water gallons at GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail, which “caused panic” among the school administration.
On examining the suspicious powder, police confirmed that it was detergent.
Gulf News learnt that the woman has an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). On questioning, she admitted that she left the detergent powder on some chairs in the school’s room used to store water gallons because she was afraid for her children’s health, according to a Dubai Police official.
The woman, who has a daughter studying in the school, thought that she was protecting the students’ health by killing the bacteria.
Colonel Faisal Al Qasim, director of security media at Dubai Police, said the woman had entered the school wearing a medical mask, intending to participate in teaching the workers on how to clean the school.
She was carrying soap, detergent and other cleaning materials.
A GEMS Education spokesperson said in a statement: “GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail will function as normal from Thursday following a minor occurrence [on Wednesday]. As the safety and security of our students and staff is our foremost priority, we suspended classes temporarily.
"We thank Dubai Police for their prompt support in resolving the situation swiftly. We reiterate to all students and parents that we are fully committed to the well-being of our students.”
Maj Gen Al Merri added that the administration “overreacted” to the mother’s action and dismissed the students early without informing Dubai Police.
“Dubai Police acted quickly and checked the material left by the Latina mother, who is in her 30s. We summoned the mother to know her intention as she had entered the school using a parent’s permit and left the material,” Maj Gen Al Merri said.
He added that the school’s reaction was “unwarranted” and the situation had returned to normal.
In a series of tweets, @DubaiPoliceHQ said the school management “seems to have rushed sending messages causing unnecessary panic among parents”.
Two parents, who requested anonymity, told Gulf News that that they had received an email from the school asking that they pick up their children earlier than usual. There was no explanation provided.
“I received an email by the teacher to come and pick up my child. I usually come after 2pm, but today [Wednesday] I came after 1pm. No one explained why, but we heard what’s been in the news today [Wednesday] and on social media and WhatsApp groups, that someone had entered the school without permission,” said one of the parents.
Rumours and stories
A number of parents said they had heard or read rumours of a woman trespassing or two men or two individuals entering without permission.
Dubai Police on Wednesday said on Twitter: “Colonel Faisal Al Qasim, director of Security Media at Dubai Police, has called on the public to disregard any rumours regarding the safety and security of the emirate. Al Qasim also called the public to refer to the force’s official channels for reliable information.”
Dubai Police had earlier tweeted that the woman “had used her parent access card to enter the school at 11am on Wednesday and performed a suspicious activity in the premises before leaving the location”. The tweet added that police “successfully dealt with the situation and secured the location. All students and academic staff are perfectly safe”.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder that's characterized by extreme perfectionism, order, and neatness. ... They're hardworking, but their obsession with perfection can make them inefficient. They often feel righteous, indignant, and angry. They often face social isolation.