Students aged six and above will need to wear a mask when they return to Dubai schools in the new academic year, it was announced on Sunday. Students and staff with medical conditions are exempted from wearing it provided they submit a medical certificate. Masks can be taken off while eating or during high-intensity physical activities.
This came as Dubai's education regulator Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) released a set of guidelines for schools to follow when they reopen. The 118-point circular will help curb the spread of Covid-19 when students return to campus in September.
"Student ratios will vary depending on the size of the classroom. The school will have the liberty to decide on the number of students per class as long as a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres per child or person is maintained," the guidelines stated.
Kindergarten students will require "stable" groups of 10 or fewer children, the KHDA said. 'Stable' means the same 10 or fewer children should be in the same group each day. This group must be cared for in a space that cannot be accessed by children outside the stable group, the circular stated.
The KHDA stressed that all schools will have to comply with the protocols, "but they have the freedom to implement them according to their own contexts". "For example, some schools may hold more outdoor classes to maintain physical distancing, while others may continue to offer online learning to some students," the authority said.
It added that the way "schools implement them will likely change as the days and weeks go by".
On-campus learning had been suspended across all education institutions in the UAE in March as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. Education went online as schools and colleges implemented e-learning.
Ensuring Covid-free schools: Key guidelines
>Class rotations are not permitted: For curriculums featuring class rotations, students should remain in a designated classroom, while teachers rotate instead.
>Designated chairs and tables: Students should be designated a chair and table and no swapping is allowed.
>Thermal screening: Means for thermal screening should be set up at the entrance of schools. Children taking the bus to school should get their temperatures checked before boarding. Anyone with a fever above 37.5°C should not be allowed entry.
>What will remain closed:Swimming pools, showers and changing rooms.
>Food: Vending machines, pantries and pre-packed food and beverages are allowed. Disposable containers, frequent sanitisation of machines and ensuring a 2-metre distance are mandatory.
>If a child exhibits Covid-19 symptoms:The class teacher will refer the student to the school nurse.
>Masks:Teachers and students older than 6 years of age are required to wear face masks at all times.
>Drop-off/pick up:Only one family member or guardian is allowed to enter the school facility for drop off/pick-up of his/her child.
>Staggered entry and exit procedure: This will eliminate overcrowding and help maintain 2-metre physical distancing in high traffic areas.
>Students and teachersmust bring their own stationary items, devices or gadgets, which must not be shared.
>PE lessons: These should focus on sports that do not require physical interaction.
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