Coronavirus: UAE considering plan to reopen nurseries, schools and varsities

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UAE education authorities are laying the groundwork for a possible return to classrooms this September, it was announced on Monday.

Officials said they were in the process of drawing up plans to facilitate the move, with the safety of students and teaching staff their key concern.

Experts said a number of rigorous health measures were being considered at nurseries, schools and universities as part of the nationwide reopening strategy.

Among ideas under discussion were smaller classroom numbers, pupil temperature checks, a ban on sharing food and a 30 per cent cap on school bus passenger capacity.

Additionally, schools and universities may also be required to ensure all maintenance staff are kept off-site during teaching hours. School trips, sport and daily assemblies will also be limited.

Other health measures may include:

  • Sterilisation of classrooms, laboratories and other facilities on a regular basis.
  • Ensuring a health and safety official is in place at all times to see precautionary measures are carried out.
  • Social distancing

News of the plan to reopen schools came as the UAE announced a further 378 cases of coronavirus on Monday, taking the total number of infections in the country to 45,303.

Officials also said an additional 631 patients had recovered from the virus, while one patient had died.

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To date, 33,046 residents in the Emirates have recovered from the disease, amounting to some 75 per cent of patients.

About 12,000 cases are still active and more than three million people across the UAE have been tested.

Elsewhere on Monday, a senior UAE minister urged the public to take greater care over inadvertently spreading false information via social media.

Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said the circulation of inaccurate information on Covid-19 had proved hard to respond to.

Speaking at virtual global health summit on Monday, he said a discussion was required to address how online platforms should be used during pandemics.

His warning came as case numbers of the virus in the UAE continued to drop, allowing some authorities to relax travel restrictions further.

“The misinformation coming through social media was challenging for all governments in that we had to be very quick in responding to it,” Mr Al Owais said.

“They [the public] wanted to help but sending misinformation really created a mess that put added pressure on different government sectors.

“There needs to be a discussion about how we can properly use social media in these times.

“When we had the Sars crisis there was no social media so we didn’t have these issues. You can’t count the number of lessons we have learned and are still learning.”

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