RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Education has announced that students will attend exams at schools.

The ministry emphasized the importance of “using school facilities to divide classes for optimization, and prioritize elementary classes.”

According to a guide distributed to educational supervisors and school principals, the ministry said that teachers who cannot come to schools might be exempted from attendance. MoE has also decided to exclude classroom or non-classroom activities that do not guarantee social distancing.

The ministry is stepping up its preparations for “the safe return” of elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom, starting next Sunday, Jan. 23, after postponing it from October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier last week, Ibtisam Al-Shehri, ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for parents to prepare their children for the return to face-to-face classes.

The ministry will ensure the readiness of schools to receive male and female students in the elementary and kindergarten grades, monitor the maintenance and cleaning of schools, and secure all needs and equipment for school buildings.

They will provide schools with sanitizer and face masks, monitor safety systems and alarms, and ensure that school buses are sanitized.

The ministry stated in the guide that it is keen to organize entry and exit from the school to ensure social distancing by applying health precautions and sanitization of classrooms and school facilities before students enter school premises and after they leave.

The ministry will allow students who have or are suspected of having COVID-19 to attend online through the electronic platform Madrasati (My School).

The platform, which was launched at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and used by more than 5 million students across the Kingdom, has been praised by the UN in a report highlighting the success of innovative educational models during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MoE said physical attendance will be applied first in remote areas because COVID-19 cases are fewer there.

The MoE will determine the level of school attendance for kindergartens and elementary schools. If the classrooms fail to meet precautions and social distancing measures, the ministry will require the school to adopt a different operational model where the school has to reduce the number of students in classrooms to meet their precautions.

To aid the smooth transition into in-person teaching, the ministry added that morning assembly will be canceled and students will go directly to their classrooms.

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