Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
While many countries are still struggling to take decisions on reopening of schools at the time of pandemic, it is heartening that the UAE has put all safety measures in place and embraced a hybrid model of teaching, with many students also opting for e-learning.
At the height of nationwide and local lockdowns, nearly 1.5 billion schoolchildren across the globe were affected by school closures.
Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, KHDA, has rightly encouraged parents and students to focus on the positives of the school reopening while ensuring preventive measures are strictly followed.
Schools will be following specific health and safety guidelines to protect students and staff.
All schools have submitted detailed re-opening readiness plans that outline safety measures, including social distancing, temperature checks, PE lessons, break times, and school start times.
KHDA will be monitoring all schools in Dubai in collaboration with key authorities to ensure they are continuing to follow precautionary measures to protect students and staff.
Strict measures are in place. School staff members are required to do a PCR test prior to the re-opening. That will certainly make everyone comfortable. The testing facilities will be based in seven schools in Dubai.
On the blended learning model to be followed by schools, Dr. Al Karam has well pointed out: “Some parents and students want to continue distance learning. Distance learning as an option will stay with us, especially at the beginning, until things get better for everyone.’’
The KHDA has already approved individual school readiness plans that were submitted by private schools in Dubai. The plans outline safety measures, including social distancing, temperature checks, PE lessons, break times, and school start times.
As part of the preparations for the new academic year, KHDA has stated that starting Sunday, a booth will be set up in three shopping malls in Dubai to promote awareness on safety and address concerns of parents.
The booth, which will be operational one week at a time at Mall of the Emirates, Mirdif City Centre and Dubai Festival City Mall, offers parents and families the opportunity to meet with KHDA officials and discuss optimal ways for children to stay safe in the schools.
Awareness activities organised at the booths will guide parents about precautionary measures and safety guidelines for students. Screens will also be set up to broadcast live virtual sessions on the school reopening.
There is no doubt various safety protocols that will be implemented in schools across the country will ensure safety.
Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum had earlier said that safety of students and teachers is top priority, adding that he is looking forward to a safe start to the school year for a million pupils across the country.
In his words: ‘We look forward to a safe start and in accordance with the best safety standards for more than a million students within the education system in the Emirates. The UAE is well aware of the importance of smart learning as it invested earlier in the digital infrastructure. Distance learning will be integral part of educational system… This is the future,”
As His Highness correctly emphasised, it is a joint responsibility between school and home to ensure a safe and secure educational environment.