What to know as UAE schools reopen today

Some schools will adopt a mandatory two weeks of distance learning for the first two weeks.

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Schools in the UAE were busy organising ‘welcome back’ activities for students who wish to return for onsite classes on Sunday, after a three-week winter break that ended on Saturday. They are also readying the campus with cleaning facilities for the pupils.

Some schools has adopted a mandatory two weeks of distance learning for the first two weeks, while others will reopen as usual with strict Covid-19 safety measures in place.

Schools principals in Dubai said they are ready to offer in-person classes to most of their students, with the school cleaning team working everyday throughout the break, to make sure the school is fully disinfected and well-sanitized.

Carl Roberts, Executive Principal/ CEO of The Westminster School, Dubai, said: “We have been working hard throughout the winter break to make sure that the school is ready and safe for the return of students next week. The first term was so successful that many more families have decided to return to face-to-face learning, meaning that the majority of students will now be physically attending school. ‘Remote learning only’ options, where students experience exactly the same learning as their friends in school, are still in place for those who prefer to stay at home.”

Preparations are also in place for many students who will be returning for the first time for onsite classes, since the institutions reopened on August 30 for the new academic term.

He added: “Teachers have planned training for those students returning to the school building for the first time so that they know all the safety procedures from day one.”

During the vacation, ICT (Information and Communications Technology) systems have also been upgraded to ensure that remote learning can continue seamlessly.

Karim Murcia, Principal/ CEO of GEMS Al Barsha National School, pointed out: “We have steadily been increasing the numbers of students learning on site and from Sunday onwards we look forward to having over 80 per cent of our students in school.”

He added: “Even as we prepare for the return of more students to school in January, we are very proud of our remote learning programme. Our families are able to opt for 100 per cent remote learning where students learn through live online lessons and through a wide range of innovative tasks and assignments where they receive frequent feedback from their teachers.”

Brendon Fulton, Executive Principal – Dubai British School (Jumeirah Park), said: “We have many new families joining the school this term, so we will be managing the protocol orientation programmes throughout the week – virtually for parents, and socially-distanced in school for the new students.”

He added: “Normally we would have exciting whole-school assemblies, but we will be running these virtually as well, while the class teachers for Primary and Form Tutors for Secondary will manage welcome back activities within their classroom bubbles.”

Many schools have also been warming up their new and returning students by sending newsletters over the break.

Richard John Drew, Principal, Jumeira Baccalaureate School, remarked: “I believe this will be a smoother start to the term as students and parents know what to expect. We hope to start a limited ECA programme soon but again we will be guided by the regulator making sure we follow all the procedures and guidelines.”

In Sharjah, parents of students can decide on the mode of education. They can choose in-person, hybrid or remote education for their wards. The tilt, though, is towards online education.

Jonathan Dey, Headmaster/CEO of Wesgreen International School Sharjah, said: “SPEA (Sharjah Private Education Authority) has called out to parents to ensure that students (as many as possible) across the school return to campus for the second semester. They are all taught in socially distanced classes of around 15 students with a blended online and face-to-face model where parents are true partners in the learning journey.”

News Source: Nandini Sircar-Dubai, Khaleej Times