Confusion over new school year in Bahrain

Private schools in the country are slated to reopen late this month

  
High school students at school, wearing N95 Face masks. Image used for illustrative purpose.

High school students at school, wearing N95 Face masks. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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Confusion reigns over whether the new school year will start with attendance in the classroom or strictly online at home, or perhaps even a mixture of the two.

Parents and members of staff have sought clarification – particularly on cases of children who have not been vaccinated, for fear they could spread the more contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 in the community.

They have urged the Education Ministry to swiftly issue guidelines so they could either book school transport or take time off work for home school.

Private schools in the country are slated to reopen late this month while government institutions will resume classes in September.

Parliament general secretariat has tasked its second vice-chairman Ali Al Zayed to get clarification from the Education Ministry, the Higher Education Council and the Labour and Social Development Ministry on reopening of educational institutions.

Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Waleed Al Manea had earlier said that 44pc of children aged from 12 to 17 years have taken two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 63pc of them have taken at least one dose.

“We do not know yet if schools will reopen for inperson classes – it could as the country is winning the war on Covid-19,” said Mr Al Zayed.

“Many parents are wondering if the institutions would be open to all or restricted to the vaccinated aged between 12 and 17.

“Some private schools have sent messages to parents asking if they have got their wards inoculated, which implies students from grades seven to 12 may have to attend schools in person.

“If so, they have to buy uniforms, bags and stationery. If it is a hybrid system, they may have to buy laptops or tablets.

“With just a month left for the start of the new academic year, parents are in a dilemma and they need to plan for the days ahead.

“I have been tasked by the general secretariat to get answers – on kindergartens, universities and training institutes.”

A 39-year-old parent of Bahraini twins in a private school told the GDN that he was anxious about his children’s safety despite them being vaccinated.

“My children are going to the eighth grade and I am not sure if it’s safe to mix with other unvaccinated children at school.

“We also do not know if school buses will be operational. It’s almost impossible to drop and pick up children everyday on time.

“It’s cumbersome for children to wear face masks from 7am to 2pm though that’s needed to avert infection.

“The ministry should have announced the decision and accordingly safety guidelines a month ago.”

MP Bader Al Dossary, representing the National Action Charter Bloc, said the government was not to blame for the delay as the situation was unstable until early last month when Covid-19 cases skyrocketed.

Charity societies are also looking forward to a clarity on the issue as they have to plan for supplies ranging from uniforms to gadgets.

“The academic year is just four weeks away and we need to collect funds. We pay fees and supply laptops for needy university students and trainees at institutes,” Naim Charity Society board of trustees chairman Hameed Rahma said.

Maqabah Charitable Society board president Ali Alzaki expressed concern as a last-minute rush would lead to suppliers exploiting demand.

“We get special discounts from suppliers, but when it is closer to the opening of schools, and they see business, they wouldn’t give us good deals.

“We don’t know what suppliers to contact – clothing and stationery or electronics.

“The regular target is BD20,000 for students but we need to clearly tell people how it would be spent for them to get invested.”

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