The first two weeks of the period is to be considered the spring break. Schools need to have implemented distance based learning programmes for weeks three and four.
Schools are expected to reopen on April 5th.
Dubai's education regulator, the KHDA, confirmed the MoE instructions in a letter to schools on Wednesday 4th March. In the letter, addressed to each principal, it wrote:
"As part of the preventative and precautionary measures to ensure the safety of students and educational community in Dubai, and in line with the measures taken at the National level, aimed at reducing the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), all schools are to abide by the following until further notice:
- Changing the starting date of the spring break to begin on Sunday, March 8 and last for two weeks.
- Ensuring the continuity of the educational process through implementing alternative plans using distance learning approaches available at your school, for two weeks, starting from March 22."
A deep cleansing programme for educational facilities will be carried out during the break.
The move is one of a raft of measures taken by the UAE government to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
KHDA inspections that had been planned to take place over the next four weeks have been cancelled.
Earlier this week, learning in schools had been limited to core lessons, with all extra curricular activities and 'student gatherings' prohibited.
Nurseries have been closed since Sunday 1st March, and as yet it is still unclear when they will reopen. As with schools, the nurseries have been closed for deep cleaning. The expectation was that they would reopen once this has been completed, however the ADEK Q&A does cast doubt on this. It reads:
"Young children are tactile by nature and are prone to putting objects and toys in their mouth... 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)."
When asked the specific question as to how long nurseries would remain closed, the Q&A stated: "Health authorities will be continuously assessing the situation, so please continue to monitor this page for more updates."
The announcement extends the Spring Break, lengthening the already scheduled holiday by an additional two weeks. However, authorities are keen to point out the last two weeks of the break are not holiday.
Schools will need to implement their contingency plans for distance learning, utilising online video and social networks to keep students on track in the run up to exam season. Most schools WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has spoken to already widely uses technology to distribute lessons, so the means will already be in place in most schools. The content, however, will need to be developed over the imminent two week holiday, starting Sunday.
The MoE announced on Monday its distance learning programme for government schools, 'Learn from Afar', which will be scheduled to begin from the third week of the enforced schools closing.
The news comes as the UAE confirmed six new cases of Covid-19, taking the tally of individuals infected in the country to 27. All six patients had come into contact with the two UAE Tour team members who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.