The Ministry of Education, in coordination with the Emirates schools establishment, announced that the gradual and phased return of regular learning is permitted for all academic levels in public schools and in the various emirates of the country, starting from February 14, 2021 until the end of the school year.
The authority added that the decision was made based on the recommendations of the relevant authorities following the analysis of the health situation and after taking into account the wishes of the parents of students, as they are essential partners in the process. It further stated that hybrid learning, where students have a choice to combine both traditional classroom experiences or attend virtually from home, will remain available to offer further flexibility.
The announcement from the Ministry follows the phased re-opening of schools across the UAE this year with many private schools offering a mix of options or 'blended' learning. In most schools in Dubai and across UAE, parents can still chose between distance and in-classroom learning for their children.
In Dubai, Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) had said that private schools will be allowed to come up with a model of learning which blends the options of e-learning and in-classroom learning. KHDA also has laid out school-level protocols for in-classroom learning which include entry, pick-up and visit rules, social distancing, and school bus arrangements. School buses, as per information on the KHDA website on the date of writing, are currently allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
In an announcement on social media on Wednesday, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee clarified that the resumption of in-class learning has been approved for students in all grades starting from February 14. It added that e-learning will remain an option until the end of school year.
The announcement follows four weeks of mandatory distance learning, starting on January 3, for all Abu Dhabi students. During this period, authorities have worked to test school staff and educators for COVID-19. The vaccination process for the education sector has also begun in earnest.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) had also said in December that students aged 12 years and older who are planning to attend school in person in the upcoming term must first present negative COVID-19 PCR tests.
In Sharjah, the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) had said on January 21 that after two-weeks of online learning, students who had opted for in-person classes could resume coming to school. Most Sharjah schools also offered parents and students the choice of opting for either e-learning, in-person classes or another blended solution.
As for COVID-19 rules, SPEA released a circular in January that said all employees in private schools and educational institutions must undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test every 14 days, except for workers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
With the date sheet for CBSE exams now out, parents of students, and students in CBSE-syllabus schools are in anticipation of exam arrangements for grades 10 and 12. The exams are set to start in May.
- Inputs from Samihah Zaman, WAM