Keeping education community safe: Preventing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) at schools in Dubai


 

Last updated: 03:00 PM – 26 May 2021

Frequently Asked Questions - Schools

Please check back on this page regularly. We’ll keep updating it to include all the questions we receive from the community.

Please do check the latest update from the concerned authorities in relation to health, safety and travel in case it changed while we were working on updating this page.

Important Circulars

PDF icon  Protocols for reopening of Private Schools in Dubai – 5 July 2020

PDF icon  Circular “Reopening schools in the new academic year – 2020/2021” – 23 June 2020

COVID 19 Vaccinations

  1. Are PCR tests mandatory?

    Effective from Sunday 11th of April 2021, employees who are eligible but choose not to be vaccinated must take the PCR test every seven days. This applies to all private education institutes in Dubai, including early learning centres, schools, universities and training institutes.

    PCR tests are also mandatory if symptoms of Covid-19 are present.

  2. Does this decision apply only to educators?

    No. This decision applies to all staff working at early learning centres, schools, universities and training institutes. It includes support staff, outsourced staff and casual or part-time staff.

  3. What are the eligibility criteria for the vaccine?

    All adults in Dubai are eligible to take the Covid-19 vaccine, with the exception of groups mentioned in this pamphlet from Dubai Health Authority.

  4. Can we choose the type of vaccine to take?

    There are a variety of vaccines available in Dubai. Please contact Dubai Health Authority for more information on this.

  5. Is it necessary for eligible, non-vaccinated staff to take the PCR test even if they are working remotely?

    All eligible and unvaccinated staff, whether working remotely or face-to-face, must take the PCR test every seven days.

  6. Do eligible, non-vaccinated staff have to take the PCR test when they are on holidays?

    It is not necessary to take the PCR test while on holidays.

  7. In which circumstances do I not have to take the PCR test every seven days?

    You do not have to take the PCR test every seven days if you are not currently eligible for the vaccine, or if you have already had your first dose. More information on Covid-19 vaccines and eligibility is available in this pamphlet from Dubai Health Authority.

Protocols for reopening schools

  1. What are the protocols about?

    The protocols have been developed by the Government of Dubai. They’re in place to make sure there’s a consistent and effective approach to keeping everyone at school safe and healthy once schools open again in September.

  2. What’s included in the protocols?

    The protocols cover different areas of school operations, such as:

    • Entry, pick-up and school visit procedures
    • Screening and contact tracing
    • Physical distancing arrangements
    • School buses

    The protocols are shared on this page. We encourage you to read them to understand how your children’s school will be protecting their health and safety.

  3. Will all schools have to comply with the protocols?

    Yes. All schools will have to comply with the protocols, but they have the freedom to implement them according to their own contexts. Before opening, each school must submit a School Readiness Plan for approval to KHDA, to ensure that all health and safety protocols are being followed.

    The Parent/School contract will include details of schools’ education models when they open, so that parents are aware of how education will be delivered. Students’ registration at school can only be confirmed when parents have signed the contract.

  4. Further, parents will be asked to sign a declaration for each of their children at school to confirm that their child is fit and healthy enough to return to school, and declaring any recent international travel.

  5. What if the situation changes?

    The protocols, and the way that schools implement them, will likely change as the days and weeks go by. Your school will keep you updated of any changes that affect your children. We also update our FAQs regularly.

Reopening of schools in the academic year 2020/21

PDF icon  Back-to-school way-book

    FAQs for Parents

  1. Will schools and universities be open to students in the new academic year?

    Schools and universities will be allowed to open and operate from the start of the 2020/21 academic year, provided they comply with specific health and safety protocols.

  2. Will school be the same as it was before the pandemic?

    For the foreseeable future, schools will have to comply with health and safety guidelines to protect everyone against infection. These mean that school may not look or feel the same as before the pandemic.

    Each school will have its own way of complying with the health and safety protocols. Your child’s school will communicate these with you as soon as possible.

  3. I feel nervous about sending my kids back to school – what can I do?

    We know that returning to school could be a worrisome time for parents and students. Schools will be following specific health and safety guidelines to protect students and staff. If you feel nervous about sending your children to school, please speak with the school to learn more about how they’re approaching health and safety, and what you can do to play your part. Being safe at school is everyone’s responsibility.

  4. What health and safety conditions will schools have to follow in the new academic year?

    Maintaining health and safety is everyone’s responsibility. Conditions to protect students and staff include:

    • Testing all school staff before schools reopen
    • Screening all students and staff for temperature at entry point to the school
    • Maintaining physical distance guidelines as recommended by the relevant health authorities and reducing the head-count capacity in classrooms.
    • Limiting gatherings and suspending group activities such as school celebrations, and sports events;
    • Organizing and managing the students’ working day including mealtimes to avoid high concentrations of students in one place.
    • Sterilising the school building, classrooms, laboratories and other facilities regularly;
    • Ensuring that support & maintenance service staff do not enter the school when students and staff are present
    • Appointing a trained health and safety official to ensure that people and processes in the school comply with health and safety protocol.

  5. Will all schools be open to all students?

    Schools in Dubai differ in terms of size, location and number of students. In order to comply with health and safety guidelines, schools may choose models that best suit their circumstances and community. These can include:

    • Being open to all students all the time
    • Continuing to do distance learning part-time
    • Scheduling lessons in staggered ‘shifts’
    • Other creative solutions

    We ask schools to consult with parents, teachers and students when choosing the best model for them.

  6. Will children still do PE and other physical activities?

    Physical education classes will continue. For the time being, swimming pools will be closed.

  7. Will buses be operating?

    Buses will be able to operate at 50% capacity, and must also comply with health and safety protocols. These include:

    • Taking the temperatures of all passengers boarding the bus.
    • Keeping windows open as much as possible.
    • Disinfecting handles, rails and other frequently used areas of the bus.

  8. Can school events still go ahead?

    School-wide events and activities such as assemblies, sports days, international days or performances are not allowed to go ahead for now.

  9. Can my child continue with distance learning in the new term?

    While face-to-face learning remains the preferred education model, we understand that different parents have different views, especially in the first phases of re-opening. As a temporary measure, schools can and should provide 100% distance learning provision in the new academic year to parents who request it.

  10. What is the new parent-school contract?

    Parents have the flexibility to continue distance learning or choose alternative modes of learning for their child for the new academic year. These choices need to be confirmed in your child’s parent-school contract. You will receive an alert via SMS or email to confirm your preferences.

  11. How can I change the mode of learning I chose on the parent-school contract?

    Please contact your child’s school to request a change in your preferred mode of learning. The school may decide on a case-by-case basis, depending on its capacity and plans.

  12. I am thinking about homeschooling my children. Which homeschooling programmes are recognised by KHDA?

    KHDA does not currently recognise homeschooling programmes.  Parents who are interested in alternative forms of education may be able to join the Rahhal programme. To qualify, students must be enrolled full-time in a Dubai private school.

  13. How will this affect school fees?

    School fees remain unchanged for the next academic year. We ask schools and parents to come together in the best interests of children to ensure that learning continues.

  14. Is it necessary for students to get a Covid-19 test before school starts?

    COVID-19 PCR testing is not mandatory for students without travel history. Only those who show symptoms of COVID-19 are required to take the PCR test.

  15. A member of our household has tested positive for Covid-19. Can I still send my child to school?

    If someone in your household has Covid-19, or is suspected of having Covid-19, you must protect your community and notify your child’s school. Do not send your child to school. Dubai Health Authority will advise you on how to keep yourself and others safe during this time. Your child’s school will provide distance learning for the period your child is unable to attend face-to-face learning.


  16. FAQs for Schools

  17. How can a school report a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case?

    Schools must report any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case to a dedicated Dubai Health Authority helpline by calling 800588 or emailing schoolnotify@dha.gov.ae and follow relevant protocols.

  18. KHDA has approved our operations model for the new academic year, but we’d like to make small changes. Do we have to ask for approval again?

    This depends on the changes you’d like to make. Please email our team for guidance.

  19. School staff are nervous about returning. What can we do?

    The first few days and weeks of the academic year will be a sensitive time for many parents, students and school staff. We ask schools to prioritise emotional and mental health during this time, as well as physical health and safety. Everyone has a part to play in keeping the community safe.

  20. Will school inspections carry on as usual in the new academic year?

    Our current priority is a safe transition back to school for all students and staff. We will send updates and schedules about school inspections as soon as we can.

  21. Can schools arrange graduation events? New icon

    In line with Dubai Government’s updated precautionary measures, private schools are allowed to hold graduation ceremonies for students completing Grade 12/Year 13 this year. Schools will follow strict safety protocols to offer a safe and memorable graduation celebration for students either within the school campus or at an external venue. Detailed safety protocols can be found here.

General Questions

  1. Can I return to school after my holiday abroad?

    • All students and staff must declare recent travel history by completing the DHA form online: https://www.dha.gov.ae/en/Pages/coronaregistration.aspx
    • Schools will keep these declarations on file.
    • All students and staff who have returned from travel abroad require a negative PCR test with a 48-hour validity, in order to resume learning/working at school.
    • If students do not have a negative PCR test result with a 48-hour validity, they will be required to access distance learning for 10 days from their arrival date.
    • Students who would like to resume onsite learning without completing their 10-day quarantine, should produce a negative PCR test.

    Please note that PCR test results are valid for 48 hours only from the date of result. The PCR test may be done at a Dubai airport or an approved DHA testing facility within the Emirate. Please follow up on the social media channels of DHA for the latest updates on testing centers and other COVID-19 related information.

  2. My school is struggling financially. What help is available to us?

    Banks in the UAE have announced different measures to help businesses. Please check with your school’s bank to see how it can help your school. KHDA is able to write letters of support to banks, landlords and other organisations to which you are financially obligated. Please email rpc@khda.gov.ae if you’d like to request a letter.

  3. What are the guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting educational institutes and how can I find a company to deep clean my premises?

    It’s important to ensure the highest health and hygiene standards for your educational institutes.

    For Dubai Municipality guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting: https://www.dm.gov.ae/municipality-business/health-and-safety/technical-guidelines-list/

    For Dubai Municipality list of recommended cleaning companies: https://www.dm.gov.ae/health-safety-approved-list/

    For more information, please contact Dubai Municipality on 8004006 or email: dmoperations@dm.gov.ae

  4. How can an Individual Education Plan (IEP) be applied as part of distance learning education programme?

    Each child’s Individual Education Plan should be altered to reflect the new context of the learning programme. For students of determination who experience the most significant barriers to learning, this will mean that goals and activities will need to be altered so that they can be applied as part of a life-skills based programme in the home.

  5. I would like help to cope, mentally and emotionally. Who can I talk to?

    Please call or What’s App the free support line on 800 4673 (HOPE). This service is staffed by counsellors, psychologists and other mental health experts, and is there to support you during the Coronavirus pandemic. The service is in Arabic and English and is open from 8am to 8pm.This service is provided by the UAE National Programme for Happiness & Wellbeing. For more details, please go to  https://hope.hw.gov.ae.

Distance Learning Evaluation

PDF icon  Distance Learning Evaluation Tool – Stage 1

  1. What is the DLE?

    The DLE is a joint initiative between the UAE Ministry of Education (MoE), the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and the Sharjah Private Education Authority Ministry of Education (SPEA) designed to evaluate the quality of distance learning provided by public and private schools in the UAE.

  2. What is the purpose of the DLE?

    The DLE has been developed to create shared expectations of distance learning for schools, parents and students and to provide schools with feedback in order to help them improve key aspects of their provision.

  3. How was the DLE devised?

    Teams from MoE, KHDA, ADEK and SPEA interviewed principals and teachers at public and private schools across the UAE to discuss the implementation of distance learning by their schools, and to gain an understanding of how it can be improved.

    Evaluation criteria and processes were developed and piloted with a number of public and private schools and insights gained during these pilot evaluations were used.

  4. What will schools be evaluated on?

    The DLE will cover the following three zones:

    • Students’ distance learning and wellbeing
    • Teaching and monitoring of students’ learning
    • Leading and managing students’ learning.

    Each of these zones is subdivided into themes, which are supported by descriptors.

  5. How will the DLE be implemented?

    Each school evaluation will be conducted remotely and is expected to take approximately five hours. It will include online meetings with the principal and senior leadership team, as well as remote observation of lessons. Schools will be given prior notice of an evaluation.

  6. How will the outcomes of the evaluation be shared?

    DLE outcomes will be shared with the schools and will also be published at a later stage.

Staff

  1. Is it necessary for school staff to get a Covid-19 test before school starts?

    All school staff members , including staff who are outsourced, are required to undergo a Covid-19 PCR test prior to the re-opening of the school for the new academic year/term. Staff who have carried out a Covid-19 test in Dubai on or after 20th August will be exempt from additional testing and have to present a copy of the results to the school.

  2. Which employees are given priority to work remotely at schools and universities?

    Staff with high risk conditions (specific illnesses or immunocompromised) should be allowed to work from home, until further notice. Pregnant staff are also recommended to work from home or provide a “fit for work” certificate from their doctors.

  3. I am having trouble getting paid by my school, university, training institute, what can I do?

    Please contact the Ministry of Emiratisation and Human Resources and discuss your eligibility for payment through your legal agreement with them: https://www.mohre.gov.ae/en/services/labour-offices.aspx.

School Access

  1. Can schools receive parents for a school tour?

    We encourage schools to host virtual school tours and online consultations with prospective families. Any in-person school tours should adhere to physical distancing requirements and comply with health and safety guidelines. School tours must be provided by-appointment only and not in large groups.

Students of Determination

  1. Can students who have physical disabilities that prevent them from being completely independent receive support from their nannies?

    All protocols applying to school staff – such as wearing PPE and testing negative for Covid-19 - will also apply to nannies.

  2. Are speech therapists, occupational therapists, behavioral therapists and other medical specialists who provide on-site therapy allowed to be in close proximity to their students during therapy sessions?

    All protocols applying to school staff – such as wearing PPE and testing negative for Covid-19 - will also apply to therapists. All therapists will also need to adhere to any protocols issued by their regulatory authority.

  3. Are Learning Support Assistants allowed to be in close proximity to their students to help them with their needs?

    LSA staff can support students, as long as all personal protective equipment (PPE) are used to protect both the students and the LSA.

  4. How will students of determination be able to access distance learning?

    Teachers will adapt and differentiate the curriculum to consider the needs, abilities and learning preferences of students of determination. Teachers will also ensure that they maintain their students’ levels of engagement, participation and progress.

  5. How do students of determination access specialist support as part of their distance learning programme?

    For students of determination that access specialist services, such as speech and language therapy, as a key part of their educational programme this provision should continue. Many therapists and other specialists are providing access to remote therapy services. For a small minority of students who are unable to access online opportunities in a way that is helpful, schools should provide information, training and guidance to parents about how to apply therapeutic approaches in the home to aid the development of these targeted skills. This may include working with external specialists to develop bespoke packages of support.

  6. What is the expectation of a learning support assistant who is employed to support to a student of determination?

    Learning support assistants play a vital role in supporting the educational programme for student of determination. Under the supervision of the head of inclusion and designated teacher, the LSA should play a key role in supervising, supporting and monitoring the educational programme and the associated targets.

  7. What happens if a student of determination cannot access the school’s distance learning programme?

    For students of determination who are unable to access distance learning, schools should provide an alternative life-skills based programme that can be applied at home. This programme should embed subjects such as maths, english, and science in every-day activities such as making phone calls, writing emails, cooking and personal organisation tasks. Key skills such as communication, problem solving, working with others, using and applying number and independence should also be developed through these activities.

  8. If a student of determination is not attending the school site how will they access learning?

    Teachers will use distance learning processes to adapt, differentiate and deliver the curriculum in response to the student’s needs, abilities and learning preferences. This will include promoting and monitoring the student’s engagement, wellbeing, participation and progress.

  9. How do students of determination access specialist support if they’re doing distance learning?

    Students who access specialist services such as speech and language therapy should continue to do so while they’re learning from home. Many therapists and other specialists are able to provide remote therapy services online. For a small minority of students who are unable to access online therapy, schools should provide information, training and guidance to parents about how to apply therapeutic approaches in the home to aid the development of these targeted skills. This may include working with external specialists to develop bespoke packages of support.

  10. How are Learning Support Assistants able to help students of determination who are doing distance learning?

    Learning support assistants play a vital role in supporting their students. Under the supervision of the head of inclusion and designated teacher, the LSA can supervise, support and monitor their students and their learning.

  11. What happens if a student of determination can’t take part in face-to-face learning and can’t access distance learning?

    For students of determination who are unable to attend the school site due to risks associated with a severe health condition and cannot meaningfully access remote learning because of the complexity of their learning needs, schools should provide an alternative life-skills based programme that can be applied at home in order to provide a continuity of learning. An example of such an approach is provided in KHDA’s publication ‘School-Home Provision - A collaborative approach to distance learning for students of determination’ and is available through the following link: https://www.khda.gov.ae/en/publications/article?id=10259

  12. Will students of determination still have access to a learning support assistant when they return to face-to-face learning?

    Yes. Students of determination who need support from a learning support assistant will continue to have this support at school. If the student requires a level of support at a close proximity (i.e. less than 1.5 meter distance), personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used to protect both the student and the learning support assistant.

  13. Can students of determination access specialist services such as speech and language or behaviour therapy?

    Yes. Students of determination who require access to therapeutic services in school should continue to access this provision. All the health and safety rules that apply to school staff also apply to therapists. Therapists must also ensure that they adhere to regulations issued by the permit issuance entity. If the therapy service requires the student and the therapist to be in close proximity (i.e. less than 1.5 meter distance) then PPE must be worn.

  14. Can students of determination be exempt from wearing face masks?

    Item 44 of the ‘Protocols for re-opening private schools in Dubai’ states that students can be exempt from wearing a face mask if they have been issued a medical certificate stating this. In this case, the school should make alternative arrangements to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

  15. Can students of determination continue to access level 1, 2 and 3 support provision in school?

    All students who have been assigned level 1, 2 or 3 support services in school should continue to access these at school. Schools should prioritise the health and safety of students and staff by following ‘Protocols for re-opening private schools in Dubai’ and other directives or guidelines provided by government authorities.

  16. Can new and returning students of determination continue to be assessed to identify their needs?

    Yes. It is essential to identify as early as possible the learning needs, abilities and interest of students of determination to be able to plan and adjust their education provision and intervention targets. Assessments, whether conducted by the school personnel or external visiting professionals, should adhere to all relevant health and safety protocols. If the assessment procedures require the student and the assessing team to be in close proximity (i.e. less than 1.5 meter distance) then PPE must be worn. Item 45 of the Protocols allows staff who are in direct contact with children to wear transparent masks or face shields to enable lip reading, and facial expression.

  17. What is best for students of determination: a face-to-face or distance learning education model?

    There is no single model that is best for all students of determination. Schools should closely consult with parents of students of determination to better understand their preferences and circumstances. Schools should determine whether the return to face-to-face learning poses any health and safety risks for the student or others around them. If so, the school must plan for and provide any needed additional protection.

For more information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Please call:
- Estijaba Service on 8001717
- Dubai Health Authority on 800342 or
- Ministry of Health and Prevention on 80011111

 

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