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Children queuing up for temperature checks during entry to The Model School Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: After six weeks of mandatory distance learning for all, children across Abu Dhabi can return to their school campuses for the first time this term on Sunday. For many middle-schoolers and children with chronic diseases, this will also be the first time that they can attend school in person since March 2020.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), which regulates the emirate’s 222 private and chartered schools, has issued a series of guidelines to ensure a safe return. Here is all you need to know before pupils return to their classrooms:

Precautions like wearing masks, maintaining physical distance etc must be followed as per the protocols set by the authorities Image Credit: Supplied

Can I continue to opt for full-time distance learning for my child?

Yes, but you should have communicated your decision to the school at the start of the academic term.

Can I change the learning mode that I have already chosen for my child?

No. This term, Adek has mandated that parents commit to a learning mode at the beginning of the term. However, children who have been enrolled for face-to-face learning will have to temporarily switch to distance learning if they feel unwell or develop COVID-19 symptoms.

If I have chosen to send my child back to school for face-to-face learning, does my child have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test report before returning to school physically?

All students aged 12 years and older who plan to physically return to school must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result. These tests are only mandatory if children are physically returning to the classroom. Students of Determination are exempt from testing.

Children younger than 12 years, including Students of Determination, who have travelled internationally and arrived in the UAE after January 3 will, however, have to present saliva or PCR test results. Check with your school for the latest requirements.

What are the COVID-19 precautionary measures applicable while my child is at school?

— Students must be seated 1.5 metres apart from each other. The maximum class size has, however, been increased from 15 to 30 students, and from 15 to 25 students for kindergarten students not in bubbles. For kindergarten students arranged in bubbles, the maximum number of students is capped at ten.

— Masks are mandatory for students in Grade 1 and above.

What precautions will be taken if a COVID-19 case is detected in the school community?

— If one positive case of COVID-19 is identified in the school community, all contacts of the infected person must self-isolate for ten days, possibly including all members of their household as well.

— If there are two or more cases of COVID-19 identified in the school, the school may be partially or fully shifted to distance learning for a minimum of ten days.

— Parents must also notify school authorities when they or their children come into contact with a person who has contracted COVID-19.

What should I do if my child shows COVID-19 symptoms?

— At the start of the term, all parents sending their children back to the classroom physically have had to sign and submit a declaration form, stating that they will keep their children at home if they display any symptoms of COVID-19. So if your child shows COVID-19 symptoms (nausea, fever, sore throat, loss of smell and/or taste etc.), you must keep him or her at home and seek medical advise if required.

Your child can return to school only after he or she has met all of the following conditions:

— Clinical improvement, including relief of fever, cough, breathlessness and other symptoms.

— Completion of the stipulated isolation period.

— Two consecutive negative PCR test results.

— In case your child shows other signs of illness, like a cough, diarrhoea, severe headache or body aches, keep him or her at home till she or he feels better.

What should I do if my child has come into contact with a positive COVID-19 case?

If your child has been in contact with a positive COVID-19 case, keep him or her at home and inform the school.

What should I let my child bring to school every day?

Provide essential supplies, including:

— At least two face masks, in case a change is needed.

— Hand sanitiser.

— Lunchbox and water bottle.

— Disinfectant wipes.

— Digital gear.

— Stationery.

How should I prepare my child for return to school?

Remind your children about the following:

— Maintaining a 1.5-metre distance from their peers and teachers while in school.

— Washing and sanitising their hands frequently.

— Wearing a mask and keeping it on all day long except while eating and drinking.

— Avoiding sharing objects with others.

Will schools organise sport activities for children?

Light, organised athletic activities may be held outdoors during PE hours, but Adek mandates that schools maintain social distancing and ensure the use of personal protective equipment.

Can I send my children to school by bus?

Yes. Buses are allowed to carry up to 66 per cent of their maximum passenger capacity, depending on the type of vehicle. Alternate seats must be left empty to ensure social distancing while riding the bus.

What are the applicable guidelines if I choose to pick-up and drop-off the child myself?

— Only one parent is allowed to accompany children. You must take them to the dedicated arrival zone.

— Be on time if schools stagger entry and exit times for students to avoid long queues and crowding.

— If you accompany your child as they stand in the queue, you must wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

— Avoid entering the school premises unless extremely necessary or unless you are accompanying a Student of Determination.

Can I visit the school as a parent?

You may be allowed to visit school for administrative purposes, or to accompany your child if he or she is young, or even for guided tours. But you first have to present a negative PCR test result with a validity of less than 96 hours, or an E status on the Alhosn app on your mobile.