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Abu Dhabi sets guidelines for reopening of private schools
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 22 - 07 - 2020

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge has issued comprehensive guidelines to reopen private schools with safety measures in place for the new academic year.
The education department has worked extensively over the last few months with schools, parent representatives, teachers and the relevant authorities to make these policies as comprehensive as possible. The policies are framed around four main dimensions: Safe operations, teaching and learning, staff and student wellbeing, and community support.
The safe operations dimension lays out procedures aimed at ensuring safety in every aspect of a school's operations.
Teaching and learning instructs schools on how to adopt social distancing processes and other safety measures without jeopardizing the overarching academic mission. Three basic preventive measures are outlined, including social distancing, where schools are requested to organize time and space to minimize interactions between people; protective equipment, where schools are requested to install appropriate equipment, screens, partitions and other protective measures; and maintaining the highest hygiene standards, with schools requested to regularly disinfect and clean all areas.
The staff and student wellbeing dimension outlines procedures aimed at ensuring schools are fully prepared to assist with student and teacher health and wellbeing.
Community support encourages schools to provide assistance to students in need, such as fee discounts, payment deferrals and splitting term fees into monthly installments, among others.
"We are committed to ensuring the safest possible return to in-classroom education for students and teachers and the guidelines, aligned with global best practice, take into account every aspect of school operations," said Amer Al Hammadi, the undersecretary at the department.
"The guidelines also put in place mechanisms to support the wellbeing of everyone in the Abu Dhabi education community," he added.
The education department received responses from 63 percent of Abu Dhabi private school parents on the survey that was launched covering a range of topics from opinions and considerations on schools reopening, to preferences on duration and format of school days and transportation for the upcoming term.
The survey findings will be used in conjunction with the comprehensive guidelines to help 201 education entities under the education department shape their individual plans for the new academic year.
"We would like to thank parents for responding to the survey. They are invaluable partners in the success of our students and the education journey as a whole. Everybody has worked so hard during our recent enforced period of distance learning and parents deserve tremendous credit," said Al Hammadi.
"Following an in-depth analysis of responses, we are now better positioned to help schools ensure their planning process for reopening is well-informed and supported by data and insights from their own parent community. We fully understand that parents still harbor some concerns about a safe return to school and we want to reiterate that distance learning provisions remain in place for all schools, irrespective of the reopening model they choose.
"As we continue to assess different scenarios and models for the new academic year, we remain in constant dialogue with federal and local authorities to ensure the health and wellbeing of all students, faculty, and staff."
The education department has requested schools to announce their reopening models by July 30 to enable parents to take an informed decision about where they wish to enroll their children for the new academic year.
The authority has also issued a Parents' Guide, which provides a full understanding of the reopening guidelines allowing parents to be more informed about the health, safety and wellbeing of their children and the important part they play in the process. — WAM


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