September School Reopening, MoE Reveals Plan

The Ministry of Education has announced that a plan is "in place" to reopen schools in September. All schools will be mandated to follow a series of stringent measures to ensure the safety of staff and students alike. Schools have reacted positively to the news, revealing readiness planning has been underway for weeks.
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

Anoud Abdullah Al Hajj, a Ministry of Education spokesperson, announced at a press briefing that schools, nurseries and universities will need to implement stringent safety measures and that the plan to reopen in September was "in place".

The measures are designed to protect all members of the community from the Covid-19 virus.  They include:

  • Temperature checks of students and teachers each morning
  • Social distancing of 2 metres to be ensured at all times; therefore reduced capacity of classrooms
  • School buses to hold a maximum of 30 students
  • Periodic sterilisation of school premises
  • Management of meals according to guidelines issued by the MOE.  No sharing of food to be allowed between students
  • Children with special health conditions to be closely monitored by the Ministry
  • Reduced gatherings and suspending group activities such as school trips, celebrations, sports and camps
  • Maintenance and service staff are not allowed to enter educational institutions during working hours

The news will be welcomed by both schools and parents alike.  A recent survey  revealed that more than two thirds of UAE parents favour a return to school in September, although a significant minority of parents will still need to be convinced. 

The guidelines present UAE schools with the logistical challenge of how to implement stringent safety requirements in each unique school setting, although understands that most schools have been working on readiness plans for several weeks.  

Raza Khan, CEO Al Najah Education told "This is excellent news for families and schools - and most importantly, for the children! Our  schools [Horizon International School and Horizon English School] in Jumeirah have been planning for this since the outset. We have detailed plans in place to ensure every child can safely come to school, every day, come September!

We will use a range of measures to ensure children stay safe and stick to social distancing guidelines. These include re-configuring classrooms and introducing special movement protocols, such as “one way systems” and peer group “safety bubbles”. We are also introducing new health and safety checks, phased pick up and drop off and creative new ways for the children to enjoy PE safely!"

At Nord Anglia International School Dubai, Principal Matthew Farthing is keen to return to school with the benefit all that has been learnt from a term of virtual learning.

"We are delighted to hear the news and will implement all of the measures necessary to ensure the safe return of children to our actual school. We learned so much in our virtual school this term that has further reinforced our understanding of community and the importance of bringing children together with their teachers to explore, to create and to learn together in the physical building that is school". 

Arcadia School has added to the MOE's list of safety protocols with their own requirement for mandatory Covid 19 testing for all staff.   

"At Arcadia, we take the safety and protection of our students and the wider Arcadia family very seriously. It is our priority that upon entering the school, our parents, teachers and students feel confident in the knowledge that all possible precautions have been taken to stop the spread of COVID-19”, said Mary Donnelly, Head of Primary.

“The mandatory COVID-19 testing programme for all staff is one aspect of the many measures we have in place and we are confident that with such measures in place, Arcadia will be a safe space."

There was a hugely positive reaction from the Al Futtaim Education Foundation, who own and operate Deira International School and Universal American School.  Speaking on behalf of the Foundation, Dr Farah Sarraj had this to say,

“We have received the school reopening news with exceptional excitement for welcoming our students back and with great confidence in our preparedness. Our teachers and leadership teams have been fully invested in planning learning that harnesses the capabilities of the recent remote schooling experience within a newly-configured face-to-face school model.

"Our spacious campuses, with their various standalone buildings and larger than normal classroom sizes, will ensure that social distancing is observed. The resilience and innovative approaches of our teachers, the future-focus of our leaders and the strength of our community make the prospects of the upcoming journey exceedingly promising.”

International Schools Partnership, the organisation behind The Aquila School,, Reach British School, Aspen Heights British School and Nibras International School is planning to utilise extra space to allow for social distancing.  Speaking to, Regional Managing Director Bharat Mansukhani told us:

"We are actively engaging with our stakeholders so that we can take a collaborative approach to the re-opening of our schools. Some of our schools in UAE are fortunate to be on large campuses and therefore will have no issues accommodating all children on our premises during normal school hours, while maintaining social distancing norms.
Our teams have been working closely with our families to look at how we can provide personalised and flexible educational experiences that fit their individual needs. Our schools remain committed to providing a safe and healthy environment where the learning and progress of our students remains central.”
The KHDA's letter to school principals confirming the opening of schools in September 2020.

Note: We will continue to update this article with more comment and analysis as it becomes available. Bookmark this page.

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