Schools in Abu Dhabi have been reminded that requiring the vaccination of students below the age of 16 is “strictly prohibited”.

This comes as the emirate’s Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) issued a policy for the implementation of the Blue Schools Initiative. The recently approved initiative allows all schools in the Capital to relax measures and return to normal operations based on student vaccination rates.

The new Adek policy provides a comprehensive framework for the initiative — including a guide on the formula used to calculate vaccination rates and how privileges will be applied to schools. It also highlights mandates on anti-discrimination policies, keeping unvaccinated students in mind.

“The policy mandates schools to establish clear anti-discrimination and anti-stigmatisation guidelines in line with the values of the UAE. Schools are strictly prohibited from requiring the mandatory vaccination of students below the age of 16,” said Amer Al Hammadi, undersecretary at Adek.

“Our policy is designed to enable an efficient and effective implementation of the Blue Schools Initiative and provides full transparency to our education community as we strive to see schools return to normalcy at the earliest opportunity,” Al Hammadi said.

At present, all staff and students aged 16 and above at Abu Dhabi’s private and charter schools have received the Covid jab, leaving students under 16 as the only primarily unvaccinated group. Vaccination for this category remains voluntary according to government protocols.

Under the initiative, as vaccination rates increase within a school community, it will advance through the four colour coded tiers: Orange, yellow, green and blue. Privileges have been specified per tier.

The school-wide incentives range from relaxation of physical distancing to mask-wearing protocols. It will allow increases in classroom and bus capacity and the reintroduction of field trips, on-campus events and extra-curricular activities, including team and contact sports, as well as inter and intra-school competitions.

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