Over one million students in the UAE will return to full-fledged schooling for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The 2022-23 academic year begins next week, and for students and educators, these are very exciting times.
Hazza Al Mansouri, official spokesman for the UAE’s education sector, recently announced updated Covid safety protocols for educational establishments. Notable changes include doing away with the requirement for periodic PCR testing as well as social distancing in schools or buses, and requiring unvaccinated students to resume in-person learning.
Here is the full list of protocols:
These rules are applicable for public schools and colleges. Education regulators in each emirate usually issue their own rules for facilities.
Rules in Abu Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) recently announced the Covid safety rules for students.
– Physical distancing: Not required
– PCR testing: Only required on the first day of schools for students aged 12 and over, and staff. The test must have been taken within 96 hours of the first day. It is also needed if students or staff exhibit Covid symptoms. Routine testing is not required.
– Vaccination: Not mandatory for students.
– Masks: Optional outdoors, and mandatory indoors.
– School entry requirements for visitors: Green Pass on Al Hosn app.
Rules in Dubai
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has not announced any fresh Covid safety protocols for students. The previous update was announced in March.
– Physical distancing remains mandatory.
– Face masks are not required outdoors. They remain compulsory indoors for students in Year 2 (Grade 1) and above.
– Children, students and staff who are considered close contacts but do not exhibit Covid symptoms are not required to isolate and may continue attending classes.
– Regular and consistent sanitisation.
– Covid-positive cases must isolate for 10 days.
– Schools will continue to offer distance learning to students who test positive for Covid, and close contacts with symptoms awaiting the results of a PCR test.
Schools all set for students
Meanwhile, educators have expressed their excitement about welcoming back students for the new academic year.
“We are thrilled to be building on the success of the UAE’s and KHDA’s back-to-school protocols which have enabled our students to enjoy a full and rich learning experience of swimming, school trips, extra-curricular activities, performances and assemblies,” said Karim Murcia, Principal/CEO at GEMS Al Barsha National School.
“We will, of course, continue to adhere strictly to all regulatory guidance, including social distancing and maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene, in order to ensure that our students, staff and parents stay safe and healthy throughout the exciting academic year ahead.”
Helen Wilkinson, headmistress, Brighton College Abu Dhabi, said the flow of pupils into schools in the UAE capital on day one would be easier, as only those aged 12 and over are required to have a negative PCR test result.
“Staff and security will be at the front main gate to welcome the pupils and check the PCR results”, she added, “…and will be there to warmly welcome everyone back for another successful and fun-packed school year.”
Lata Nakra, Principal of JSS International school, said the campus will be prepared with “safety protocol visuals.”
“Students will be following safety protocols — wearing masks and following social distancing as per KHDA and Dubai Health Authority guidelines”, she said.
“They will be advised to monitor their health symptoms, but PCR tests will be advised only if symptoms develop.”
Covid-positive students can return to school after a 10-day isolation upon presenting a certificate to this effect, she added.