No masks needed: UAE school allowed to lift mandate as most students Covid-vaccinated

Field trips, inter-school extracurricular activities and assemblies will also be reinstated

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In a major move, an Abu Dhabi school has lifted several Covid-19 protocols after inoculating more than 85 per cent of its students.

Starting today, Grace Valley Indian School’s students are no longer required to wear masks in outdoor areas. Physical distancing requirements have also been removed, while all school events, including assemblies and graduation ceremonies, will be permitted.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) recognised Grace Valley’s successful vaccination efforts as it reached the Blue School Initiative’s top ‘blue’ tier.

The initiative offers Abu Dhabi schools a clear roadmap to normalcy by providing customised privileges based on student vaccination rates. Schools are also allowed to gradually relax precautionary Covid-19 measures and return to pre-pandemic school operations.

In addition to the revised mask mandate, Grace Valley Indian School will enjoy a host of other privileges.

The school can now host inter-school extracurricular activities with other ‘blue’ tier schools, including sports tournaments and competitions. Parents will be allowed to attend on-campus events, provided they adhere to entry requirements. Moreover, field trips will also be reinstated, amongst other privileges.

Sara Musallam, chairwoman of Adek, said: “The efforts made by the Grace Valley Indian School community to return to normalcy stand as an exemplary role model to the Abu Dhabi education sector. I would like to personally thank all parents who chose to vaccinate their children. Your decision has helped to protect the health and safety of your child’s school community and contributed towards a return to pre-pandemic school operations.”

In line with the ongoing increase in vaccination rates, Adek launched a survey, in cooperation with schools, to gauge parents’ opinion about Covid-19 immunisation.

The survey results highlight that 52,000 parents are interested in vaccinating their children, a measure that will help restore normalcy in the education sector. Projections also reveal an expected 21 per cent increase in the number of vaccinated students, bringing the percentage of vaccinated students to 59 per cent.

Musallam urged all private and charter schools to continue working towards achieving the blue tier to “safeguard the health and safety of our entire Abu Dhabi education ecosystem.”

Adek’s announcement about Grace Valley is the first Blue Schools Initiative update since its activation earlier in November. Nine private and charter schools have advanced through the initiative’s four tiers following an increase in student vaccination rates.

According to the update, seven schools have progressed from orange to yellow tier, while one school moved from yellow to green tier, a sign that it is one step closer to achieving the coveted blue tier.

“Since Blue Schools Initiative’s activation just two weeks ago, we have seen a prominent increase in student vaccination rates,” Musallam said. “School community stakeholders, including students, parents, principals and teachers, have worked collectively to make this possible and it is encouraging to see so many schools advance through the tiers due to an increase in student vaccination adoption. We look forward to celebrating more schools that advance to the blue tier soon.”

To date, a total of 107,000 students across Abu Dhabi schools have been vaccinated, representing 39 per cent of the total number of students. Vaccination rates for those under 12 have doubled in the last two weeks since the activation of the Blue Schools Initiative.

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