School, Nursery Closures - Your Qs Answered

Your questions answered by ADEK, the KHDA and, where we can, WSA. continues to be in contact with education regulators to answer specific queries you may have. Please do not hesitate to add your questions in the comment box below.
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Both the education regulator for Abu Dhabi, ADEK, and Dubai, the KHDA, have answered many of the key questions parents are asking. Some answers are clear, others clearly a work in progress. editors too have stepped into help where we can in this Q&A. It is, currently, the most comprehensive set of answers to your questions currently available.

Is this a four-week holiday for schools?

KHDA: No. the first two weeks – starting March 8 – will comprise the spring break holiday for all school students. For the two weeks beginning Sunday March 22, schools should deliver classes through distance learning. During this time, teachers and staff are encouraged to organise their work schedule with school management in a mutually beneficial arrangement.

ADEK: The Spring Break has been brought forward for students. Schools will use the first two weeks of the break (8 - 19 March 2020) to ensure all plans are in place to implement distance learning. From 22 March 2020, distance learning will start for all students. Parents are requested to support their children during this period and are encouraged to communicate closely with schools.

Will parents be entitled to any fee refund following the announcement of the four-week school closure?

ADEK: No, during this period, schools will continue to provide education in line with their academic plans starting from 22 March 2020. Schools have developed distance learning plans, and teachers are going to provide support to students during these two weeks.

KHDA: No. Schools will continue to provide education online after the spring break.

Will the nurseries refund fees for parents for the suspension period?

ADEK: During the suspension period, nurseries will not be refunding parents.

Is it allowed for nurseries to suspend staff salary during the suspension period?

ADEK: No, nurseries shall pay employees fully as scheduled.

Can we confirm schools WILL resume operation after four weeks?

ADEK: Health authorities are continuously assessing the situation so please continue to monitor ADEK’s official channels for updates.

For how long will nurseries be suspended?

ADEK: Health authorities will be continuously assessing the situation, so please continue to monitor this page for more updates.

What will happen inside schools and nurseries while they are closed?

WSA: Schools will be deep cleaned and sanitised. During the latter two weeks, teachers will be in school to deliver their lessons.

Why were nurseries suspended?

ADEK: Young children are tactile by nature and are prone to putting objects and toys in their mouth. It is therefore essential to remain vigilant when it comes to their health, safety and well-being as they may not tolerate the chemicals used in the more rigorous cleaning protocols that need to be implemented to reduce the possibility of the transmission of the COVID 19 virus (Novel Coronavirus).

What kind of distance learning will be provided? Will all schools offer this?

KHDA: Private schools in Dubai are at different levels of preparedness regarding distance learning, but each should provide some form of learning during the two-week period beginning March 22. Please contact your child’s school directly to find out if and/or how they will be enabling learning during this time.

ADEK: Each school is unique and has their own plans for implementing distance learning. Over the next two weeks [of the holiday], ADEK will be working closely with schools to make additional learning resources available to students and parents where needed.

I'm no teacher! How will I cope with homeschooling?

WSA: Your child's school will be creating lessons and resources for them to follow. Whilst you might need to support and facilitate the learning, it is important to remember that the teacher will still be the teacher and available to you for support and guidance.

My child has learning support at school. How will I cope at home? What should I do?

WSA: Your school should create individualised learning for your child. We suggest staying in very close contact with your school and expressing your specific concerns to them clearly. Only then can they fully support you and your child.

What subjects will students be required to study through distance learning?

ADEK: Every school will have its own offering based on its curriculum requirements. ADEK has encouraged schools to cover the core subjects: Arabic, Math, Science, and English.

My child is learning to read and write. It feels like a critical time. What now?

WSA: Keep reading! That is the absolute best thing you can do. Ask for lots of guidance from your school. Ultimately, creating a love of books and stories are the best ways in which parents can foster early reading. Keep that in mind, make it fun!

How will this announcement affect Asian schools?

ADEK: Asian schools should assume that Thursday 5 March 2020 is the last day of the school year and calculate student scores accordingly. Internal exams will not take place as scheduled; however ADEK will work with schools to ensure that students sitting for external exams are not affected.

Spring break was supposed to finish on Thursday April 9. Does this mean that schools will get an additional week off?

KHDA: No. All schools in the UAE will be closed for four weeks only starting Sunday, March 8. They will be resuming on Sunday April 5.

My kids have exams coming up – what happens with those?

KHDA: All international exam boards have a contingency plan, and they are working on customised solutions for each country affected by school closures. They will be communicating these plans with schools in the UAE as soon as they are ready.
ADEK: ADEK will be working closely with schools to ensure that students who are scheduled to take external exams during this period are not impacted.
WSA: All of the schools we have spoke to have immense confidence in their students, teachers and online learning platforms. Communication with your school will be key here.

Will my children still be able to communicate with their teachers if they need help?

KHDA: Different schools will manage this situation in different ways. Please ask your children’s school directly

How will online lessons be delivered if services are blocked in UAE?

KHDA: Your school will send details of any applications you may need. We are working with telecommunications providers to help support schools with their distance learning requirements.

Will all after-school activities, camps and events resume after the four-week break is finished?

KHDA: Guidance on internal and external school gatherings following the break will be shared shortly.

Does this four-week closure have any impact on the dates of summer holidays?

KHDA: No. The dates of summer holidays remain unchanged.

We have a DSIB inspection that is scheduled to take place during the school closure. Will this go ahead?

KHDA: No. DSIB inspections will not go ahead during school closures. The DSIB team will be in touch with schools affected.

In case parents do not have any substitute care for their children, can nurseries accommodate these children?

ADEK: No, nurseries will be closed during this period and until further notice. No children are allowed to attend under any circumstances.

What are some alternative childcare options for working mothers?

ADEK: ADEK encourages working mothers to refer to their workplace to provide them with the necessary support until they can find an alternative care option.

WSA: We suggest that parents open conversations with employers immediately, about possible options for working from home or taking leave. Your employer should be understanding. This is an issue for society, and we are all in it together.

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