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‘Group of schools’ in UAE instructed to implement 100% distance learning as suspected Covid-19 cases detected

‘Group of schools’ in UAE instructed to implement 100% distance learning as suspected Covid-19 cases detected

UAE educational institutions must restrict student face-to-face attendance to 25 per cent for first two weeks

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The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) and the Ministry of Education have confirmed on Tuesday night that ‘a group of schools’ have been instructed to implement 100 per cent distance learning as suspected Covid-19 cases were detected among the schools’ employees.

These suspected cases were identified among administrative staff and teachers, before the return of students to the campus as the new academic year began earlier this week.

The precautionary measures to implement distance learning will remain in effect until the laboratory tests confirm whether or not the individuals are infected.

“The Ministry and NCEMA confirmed that school administrations will communicate directly with parents and provide all updates on the study system and health status,” it added.

“MoE and NCEMA call on all school employees students and their families to cooperate and disclose any suspected cases of the virus or the presence of any symptoms in order to limit the spread in addition to not practicing work or sending students to school if any symptoms appear.”

The NCEMA added that the public must obtain their information only from official sources and not circulate rumours, while confirming that legal action will be initiated against those who violate the preventive measures in place.

In Dubai, Covid-19 PCR tests are not mandatory for students returning to their campus, although all staff must undergo these tests – the cost of which is borne by the Dubai government.

In preparation for the reopening of educational institutions in the Dubai, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), in cooperation with the the emirate’s education regulator – the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) and the Covid-19 Command and Control Center (CCC), conducted approximately 35,000 tests for teachers and admin staff working in Dubai’s private schools.

The tests which are now completed were undertaken in nine centres over a period of six days.

The DHA has also launched a dedicated 24×7 back-to-school Covid-19 helpline – 800 588 – to address concerns by parents, students and staff arising from the pandemic.

Read: Back-to-school Covid-19 helpline launched in Dubai

Also on Tuesday night, the UAE’s Minister of Education, Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi outlined a phased return of students to the campus. “Overall students’ attendance numbers will be initially limited to 25 per cent in establishments, and after two weeks we plan to increase this to 50 per cent and then 75 per cent and [increase that] until we reach full-time education for those wishing to attend in person [attendance at the campus] over remote learning.”

“We decided to implement a hybrid education system giving parents the freedom to choose between their children’s attendance at school or distance education for the first semester.”

He said that the MoE implemented a realistic simulation experiments for students’ attendance in schools in order to identify challenges and opportunities for improvement and accordingly a detailed plan was formulated for educational institutions to resume studies.

Hammadi also said that the MoE has implemented a monitoring and inspection system through an operations room open 24 hours a day to ensure that the precautionary guidelines are met at all establishments.

Hammadi also outlined the inherent challenges that distance learning could pose to students enrolled in higher educational courses. He said: “With regards to higher education, distance learning and education has been adopted on university campuses according to the nature of the educational curriculum as some lectures will be given remotely, but others require attendance to laboratories and practical training classes.”

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