Dubai: A first-person student account of what school will look and feel like in Dubai under COVID-19 measures has been illustrated in a new playbook.
Schools are reopening on August 30 after they had closed in March because of the pandemic. The return to the classroom will take place under unprecedented precautionary measures to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus.
To help Dubai students and parents cope with concerns about school life in the time of COVID-19, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has uploaded ‘#NewDaysNewWays’ as a guide. It follows Majid on his first day back to school.
The free-to-download illustrated book is divided into “9 Ways” from getting ready to school to coming back home safely.
“We hope that Majid’s experience will help students feel even more excited for the start of school, and reassure parents that their children’s health and safety remain the top priority,” KHDA director-general Dr Abdulla Al Karam says in a note before Majid starts his day.
The Ways are based on some of the ‘Protocols of the Reopening of Private Schools in Dubai’ that were released by the KHDA last month.
Here are some of the main points from the different phases of the school day shown in the new 25-pager picture book.
Way 1: Getting Ready for School
At home, Majid is all set for class after washing his hands and wearing a mask. His mom has checked his temperature “just in case”, even though he will officially be checked before getting on the school bus.
Way 2: Pick-ups and Drop-offs
Majid has his temperature taken when he gets on the school bus. He gets two seats to himself, as buses are only allowed to run on half capacity. Majid makes it a habit to sit in the same seat daily. All buses are disinfected between after drop-off and pick-up.
Majid’s friend Zeina comes to school in a family car and she will say goodbye to her mom outside school grounds, which will be the new-normal for most schools.
Way 3: What school will look like
Majid looks at all the new signs showing the rules to follow and takes note of isolation room. “It’s a precautionary measure for students who might feel unwell at school,” he says.
“We tend to stay in our classroom for lessons but when we do go to the library we go inside one-by-one and we keep a safe distance.”
That distance is kept even during PE but he doesn’t have to wear a mask then.
Way 4: What classrooms will look like
Majid notices Grade 1 students do not have to wear masks like the older pupils, and they stay in the same small groups all day. Student desks have plenty of space between them.
Way 5: Breaks and Lunchtime
“I bring my own lunch from home, but some of my friends order their ‘packed lunch’ from school. We can get snacks from the vending machine too. We take our masks off and sit together to eat, but we still keep our distance. Since we cannot use water fountains, I brought an extra water bottle. My friend bought a bottle of water from the vending machine,” Majid says.
Way 6: Outside the classroom
School is still fun with virtual hugs, hand waves and thumbs ups exchanged while students and teachers socialise at a safe distance or attend an event in the auditorium.
“They let us take some of our classes online at home. My friend Harris chose to do his classes all online until he feels comfortable enough to come back. We have a camera placed in our room so when Mrs Nila is teaching she can teach both the kids at home and at school.”
Way 7: Going Home
Majid takes the bus back to home. He properly disposes his mask in the bin and washes his hands.
Way 8: Wellbeing
“The school helps us with our wellbeing with daily breathing exercises and open conversations about our worries and our achievements. Our wellbeing continues at home too. I play with my parrot and enjoy playing around with my parents outside.”
Way 9: Stay Connected
His parents are following announcements by the school and KHDA regularly. “There’s also an FAQ on the KHDA website in case they want to know more.”