Schools Reopen in the UAE
A few of the conditions issued for school reopening include:
1. Entry, Pick up, and School Visit
At the entrance of the school, Modes of thermal screening (individually or by installing the relevant technology) should be present.
Those students who take the bus, should get scanned for their temperature prior to getting onto the bus.
Any student with a fever of equal to or more than 37.5˚C should not be permitted entry.
The class teacher must refer students with Covid-19 symptoms such as body aches cough, fatigue, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, diarrhea and nausea, and headache, to the school nurse. These students should go for further screening as per the guidelines.
Teachers and students older than six years of age must wear face masks at all times.
Staff are not allowed to exit the school during the day, but if they do for emergency purposes, they should not come back to the school unless they have fully sanitised and changed their clothes upon return. They should also undergo thermal screening before entry.
Only one family member or a guardian is permitted to enter the school facility for drop off/pick up a student. People with compromised medical conditions, such as the elderly, are recommended not to come for drop off and pick up.
A staggered entry and exit procedure will be implemented in the schools to eliminate overcrowding and to maintain two metres physical distancing.
2. Screening and Contingency/Emergency Plan
If a stable case of disease is detected amongst staff or visitors with Covid-19 symptoms, should be contacted by the school’s designated H&S officer.
In cases of emergencies, such as having unstable cases amongst staff, students or visitors, the school must contact 999 or 997 immediately.
A health and safety designated staff should be identified and assigned to handle any emergency situation, follow up and monitor the implementation of health and safety procedures, and conduct all necessary trainings for students and staff. This person is also responsible for the designated isolation room within the school premises.
Those children/teachers/staff who begins to show symptoms of Covid-19 while at school, must get isolated instantly. Also, the parent/ guardian of the child must be notified immediately and the patient should be referred to the hospital to take the necessary action.
The patient is not allowed to come back to school until the PCR result is obtained. In the case the result is negative, a 14-day quarantine will be considered. If the result is negative and there isn’t any clinical assessment for a probable case, the child can continue schooling so long as they are symptom-free.
In the case the result is positive, all who have been in close contact must commence a 14-day quarantine. The quarantine will be from the day the result comes out, or from the day of the onset of symptoms if ascertained by the clinician.
3. Monitoring Attendance and Contact Tracing
If staff, guests and/or students are considered positive according to a Covid-19 PCR test by an accredited facility, they are not permitted to come back unless they are granted a clearance certificate by DHA. The certificate states that they are discharged from isolation.
If contact tracing becomes necessary, the school is responsible to maintain adequate records of its staff/guests/members/students such as telephone numbers, names, and visit dates to assist. This is also to maintain accurate work records of its staff for purposes of contact tracing.
The schools should provide DHA with all records needed to trace potential contacts of the confirmed Covid-19 cases in order to abide by the contact tracing procedures.
Upon the onset of the academic year, the school is responsible to collect health and travel declaration forms from all students and staff.
A policy of “staying at home if unwell” for teachers, students, or school staff with symptoms should be enforced.
Common areas such as toilets, pantry, waiting areas should be sanitized every hour or after every use.
Total sanitization of the school before the official opening is necessary.
Daily clean up and sterilization of all areas and surfaces of the school premises and effective sanitization post completion of each day to be conducted and cleaning process to be in-line with Dubai Municipality guidelines for schools.
Clear guidelines should be set for security staff and those who are cleaning the school facility to ensure they follow the right measures such as wearing gloves and masks while cleaning.
Encourage strict hand washing regime and adequate hand washing breaks for children. Assist children with hand washing, especially younger children who cannot wash hands alone.
Ensure hand sanitizers are distributed across the school premises, away from younger children’s reach. The sanitiser should be approved by Dubai Municipality.
Staff and children’s bags and shoes are encouraged to be sprayed with sanitisers upon arrival to school.
In classes where taking off shoes is required, a shoe rack should be designated outside at the class entrance rather than taking them inside the classrooms.
Frequently used electronic devices should get disinfected after each use (i.e. tablets, computers, etc.).
The school should encourage a paperless strategy and elevated use of technology in the educational provision to minimise contacts.
Measures should be taken to ensure that students with certain disabilities or learning difficulties receive adequate supervision and support when needed.
Ensure that all staff and children:
Frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly
Clean their hands upon arrival at the setting, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing
Are encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose
All staff, visitors, and students over the age of six are mandated to wear masks at all times inside the school from entry. Non compliance will lead to denial of entry to the school facility.
Children over the age of six (all students in Grade 1/Year 2 and above) should wear masks. Students and staff with medical conditions are exempted from wearing a mask with a medical certificate only. Masks can be taken off during eating or during high intensity physical activities.
Staff who are in direct contact with children are encouraged to wear transparent masks/face shields to enable lip reading, and facial expression.
Sufficient stocks of masks, gloves and sanitisers must be available and special designated bins to throw used items (as recommended by relevant governmental authorities).
Registration should be encouraged to happen online. If truly needed, parents/guardians visits for registration should be based on an appointment system. It shouldn’t be allowed during drop-off, pick-up, and break time to avoid having the visits during children crowding time.
6. Set-up / Physical Distancing Arrangements
Ensure the two metres distancing measure is maintained in all common areas, service desks, etc. where different groups of students, staff and visitors are mixing.
Classroom area should support sufficient room for groups to maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres per child in each classroom provided everyone wears a mask.
Use of outside space should be encouraged:
for exercise and breaks
for outdoor education, where possible, as this can limit transmission and more easily allow for distance between children and staff
outdoor equipment should not be used unless the setting is able to ensure that it is appropriately cleaned and sanitised between groups of children and young people using it, and that multiple groups do not use it simultaneously.
Stagger the use of staff rooms and offices, their entry and exit, and the use of their pantry, to limit occupancy.
Create visible markers on the floor to indicate appropriate spacing.
Contactless payments to be encouraged, yet cash payments are allowed.
Vending machines, pantries and pre-packed food and beverages are allowed, in the condition that they follow necessary guidelines for the sector [only disposable containers, frequent sanitisation of machines, and pantries items, maintaining two metres between the tables].
7. Educational Provision
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.
8. Shared Resources/ Materials
Use of soft toys and toys with intricate parts or that are otherwise hard to clean should be avoided.
All equipment in classrooms such as toys, books, scissors, pens, pencils, crayons, arts and crafts materials and messy play resources as well as roleplay and other materials should be sanitised after each and every single use where possible.
Students and teachers must bring their own exclusive stationary items, devices or gadgets (i.e. laptops, tablets, headphones, etc.). Student should not share their stationery. If the children need a supply of stationery, it should be done by the teacher via proper disinfection.
9. Food and Beverages
Food catering at this stage should not be restricted. The school can provide catering services provided it is based on pre-packaged food, while following Dubai Municipality guidelines related to catering services.
Families should supply food and beverages for their children along with their own plastic safe utensils. Staff must also bring in their own food and drink. Teachers should supervise to ensure that children do not share food. Face shields are encouraged during meal breaks when masks need to be temporarily removed.
Buffets or other forms of meal gatherings are not allowed.
Water dispensers are not allowed, the school may offer sanitized water bottles.
In June, the UAE also announced a list of guidelines on the reopening of educational institutions across the country later this year.