WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has approached the regulators in other emirates for guidance and further comment. We will continue to update this story as we receive new information, but suspect outside Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, schools will follow Abu Dhabi and the MoE's lead.
The news, initially reported in the Khaleej Times, comes due to a rapid spike in Covid cases across the country and applies to schools, universities and training centres. Confirmed Covid19 case numbers have crossed the 1800 mark twice in the past three days.
The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee stated:
"During these two weeks, ongoing testing campaigns will increase for education sector personnel and the situation will continue to be monitored to update protocols for the return to in-school learning".
In Dubai, the schools regulator, the KHDA, shared the following statement via their official twitter account;
"Regular face-to-face education in Dubai private schools will continue in the 2nd semester while collective classroom & extracurricular activities will be discontinued. Canteens will close for the first 2 weeks of the semester & gatherings & school trips will be suspended".
Sharjah schools will also continue for face to face learning in school, but with "the discontinuation of all classroom and extra curricular activities and school trips". Moreover, all children over the age of 12, and all staff, will require a PCR test taken within the last 96 hours to enter the school.
In Ras Al Khaimah, the emirates Crisis and Emergency Management Team confirmed that face to face lessons will continue.
Schools across the UAE will now be considering how best to implement changes within each emirate. Speaking on behalf of GEMS Education, Chief Operations Officer, Elmarie Venter commented,
"GEMS Education has noted this evening’s announcement from the Ministry of Education and ADEK regarding distance learning in Abu Dhabi schools for the first two weeks of the new academic semester from Monday January 3. We have closely followed national leadership guidelines and advice since the outbreak of the pandemic. The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and wider school community is of paramount importance to us and we will continue to follow direction from the authorities to support this as required".
At Arcadia School, Executive Principal, Giles Pruett felt that the KHDA's approach would ensure students make a safe return to learning. Mr Pruett commented that,
"We are pleased that the KHDA has taken a measured response to the increase in COVID cases and with the enhanced safety measures for the first two weeks, our students should be able to safely return to their learning face-to-face. Arcadia has an excellent health and safety record during the pandemic and we are confident our children will be able to get back school with little interruption."