Monday, September 20, 2021

Play areas, canteens to reopen in Abu Dhabi schools

istock [For illustration]

Abu Dhabi has unveiled a raft of updated precautionary policies for the new academic year.

Open play areas, fully-functioning canteens, Physical Education classes, and extra-curricular programmes await private and Charter schools students when they return to campus in September.

All school staff and students aged 16 years and over, barring those with official exemptions, must also be fully vaccinated to return to, and continue, face-to-face learning.

Meanwhile, students set to turn 16 years old after schools reopen who wish to continue face-to-face learning, must receive a first dose of a UAE-approved vaccine within four weeks of their birthday, which must be reflected on the ALHOSN app.

Parents must ensure these pupils students complete their full vaccination journey in a timely fashion.

Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) made the announcement in-line with guidelines laid down by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee.

Students and staff with vaccination exemptions can enter school premises provided the exemption is verified on the ALHOSN app or through an official letter from a Department of Health-Abu Dhabi authorised vaccination provider such as SEHA or Mubadala Health.

“The policies mean all pupils aged 16 and above, as well as staff and all visitors, must be fully vaccinated with a UAE approved vaccine to access the school premises, whether within or outside school hours. The vaccinations must be verified on the ALHOSN app prior to returning to school at the start of the academic year,” said Amer Al Hammadi, ADEK Undersecretary.

Distance learning will remain an option for children with chronic illnesses, for those aged 16 and above who are not vaccinated, and for those who wish to continue learning online if the model is offered by their school.

ADEK also confirmed special arrangements will be made for students aged 16 and above who have not been vaccinated to sit critical exams in school, while students over 16 and educators who are new to the emirate will be given a grace period to complete their vaccination journey and should reach out to their schools for further details.

Other guidelines:

  • Within school premises, physical distancing will be scaled down to one metre within classrooms and throughout school grounds
  • Schools will continue operate macrobubbles. Class bubble sizes for younger students in Kindergarten and Cycle 1 (Grade 2/Year 3 and below) has been increased from 10 to 16 students per bubble
  • Communal areas vital to interaction and socialization will reopen, including play areas for younger students. Cooking will be permitted as long as food is served by designated staff members and as per Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority regulations
  • Students are set to resume Physical Education (P.E.) classes and sports including swimming with special arrangements and adaptations based on risk assessment, with schools required to sanitize recreational areas and equipment between groups
  • Extracurricular activities for a school’s own students will also resume, providing schools complete a risk assessment and implement safe operation policies, including physical distancing and mask-wearing. The rental of school sports facilities to outside parties remains suspended

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