Dubai: Every year back to school promises a whole lot of challenges for schools, principals, teachers, students and parents alike.
This year, however, it is a whole new ball game amid the pandemic situation as the schools are set to open on August 30. From adopting to hybrid models of teaching wherein some students attend school for face to face learning while the rest do e-learning, Gulf News reached out to school principals, teachers and students to know what they had to say.
Pramod Mahajan, principal, Sharjah Indian School said the school is all set to welcome students to its premises on Sunday.
“As per the guidelines laid down by the Sharjah Education Ministry, we have to maintain social distancing within classrooms. A distance of 1.5 meters has to be kept inside. Outside the campus, a distance of two meters needs to be maintained. The school premises has to sanitised and disinfected every day. The clinic should be well equipped and isolation rooms need to be set up. We have done all of this and we are ready,” he said.
Good to go
He added that SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority) has conducted free Covid tests for school staff, which was a big boon. “All our staff have been tested and results are negative, so we are good to go.”
Baini Kurian, Subject Coordinator, English Department of Sharjah Indian School, said on Wednesday, August 26, the SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority) held a virtual meeting to honour schools for implementing distance learning. “In the meeting, authorities stressed the importance of the precautionary measures to be taken in schools before the reopening. The meeting also highlighted that regular school inspections would take place.”
She said: “As an educationist, I am anxiously waiting for the school to reopen. I would very much love to meet my students face to face. By adhering to guidelines laid down by SPEA, we will be able to create a safe environment in school for both teachers and students.”
Hana Abd Al Azim, head of department at Gulf Model School, said teachers had to take part in workshops to prepare for the school reopening. “We have been told of the care that needs to be given to students if they fall sick. We have set up isolation rooms which will deal with emergency situations. Training on COVID emergency care has been given to us teachers. We have been told to wear a face shield and mask to double up on our protection. Other necessary safety training is being given to teachers as well.”
Hana Abd Al Azim
French teacher Elizabeth Rousset at Lycée Français International (LFI) said she was looking forward to going back to school to teach students. “My family and I spent a very conscientious summer to stay healthy and abide by all social distancing rules. I know that returning to school is going to be a tall order. Our school has answered the government’s requirements and we were one among the first to retrofit our classes. I just hope that one day in the near future we can however go back to normal teaching methods!”
Julian Williams, principal, Ghaf Primary School, a new school in Dubai located at the Al Muntaza Complex in Jebel Ali, said: “We have incorporated blended learning to full swing and our teachers are supporting us both in class and at home. We have had KHDA visit our school. We have been spending time with our staff, walking them through the protocols and how to manage both conventional and online learning.”
Anika Prakash, 13 going into Year 9 at Dubai English Speaking College (DESC), said: “Going back to school this year means a whole different thing. We will carry our own food. We have to wear masks, carry sanitisers. There will be no assemblies, school trips or any large gathering of students. Regular temperature checks will be the norm. My parents will have to check my temperature every day before I leave for school as well. If it is above 37.2 degrees Celsius, we have to stay at home.”
American expat Margot Koenig, 13, a year 9 or 4eme in the French system at lycée français International (LFI), said, “I have not seen my friends and favourite teachers in a long, long time. But it is going to be a massive challenge for everyone due to the COVID safety measures we need to follow. It is all a new concept for us now at school. The hardest part for me will be not being able to kiss and hug my friends. No water fountains or cafeteria to socialise but just wear a mask and study at school.”