For at least another week, most, if not all, of Gems schools in Dubai will be online.
On the third day of the second term, on January 3, 30 Dubai schools switched to distance learning.
“GEMS Education continues to work closely with UAE authorities to make our school communities as safe as possible following the transition to distant learning,” stated Elmarie Venter, GEMS Education’s Chief Operations Officer.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and look forward to bringing our children back into the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so,” she said.
“We will never jeopardize our students’, their families, or our employees’ health, safety, or well-being.” We keep our families informed about all developments and appreciate their patience and cooperation.”
Negative PCR test report
“We have prolonged distance learning by a week to examine the situation,” explains Zubair Ahmad, Head of Operations at Springdales School Dubai. “We have asked all our students and staff to submit a negative PCR test report upon their arrival, when they rejoin on January 17.”
“In SEHA, there is a center where students can get free Covid testing. We want to make sure that all of the returning employees and students are healthy and safe. However, depending on their circumstances, we will offer blended and online learning options to a select group of pupils.”
This comes as some Dubai schools prepare to reopen for on-site study on Monday, January 10, while others will continue to wait and see for at least another week before resuming face-to-face sessions.
Resumption of face-to-face classes
Dubai International Academy EH, which had moved to distance learning last week, will resume on-site classes. Parents have been advised that any change in the current scenario may necessitate a return to online classes.
“While we will continue to manage higher than usual staff absence due to quarantine requirements,” the school wrote in a statement to parents, “we will reopen all year groups from Monday, January 10 for those able to attend and we’re confident we can provide a safe learning environment.” When a teacher is absent, learning can be given remotely with the help of substitute teachers in the classroom. The KHDA guidelines have been modified to remove PE instruction from the curriculum.
We intend to keep the school open for face-to-face learning and aim to avoid a complete closure in the future, but we recognize that many students and employees may need to stay from home. We can’t rule out full distance learning for areas of the school if the situation calls for it.”
Parents are relieved but worried
Both online and on-site learning have elicited conflicting reactions from parents.
Some argue that resuming face-to-face classes gives students an interactive setting that can’t be replicated by online learning.
Others argue that, given a large number of coronavirus cases, the health and safety of students and staff cannot be jeopardized.
“I will be taking my son to school after keeping him at home for one week of distance learning,” Arijit Nandi adds, “because my child’s school reopens for in-person lessons on Monday.” On the one hand, I believe that schools reopening for in-person learning are a fantastic idea, but on the other side, my wife and I have reservations. The virus is spreading at an unprecedented rate, and it’s impossible to know whether other people are adhering to the regulations as strictly as they should be and keeping their wards at home when they show signs or become ill.”
“Navigating through many tasks and obligations when your child is engaged in online learning can be challenging,” Nandi adds. The fear that your child will get the illness, suffer, and isolate is, on the other hand, considerably more concerning. However, I am confident that schools make decisions after carefully examining the situation. As a result, I must state again that I trust the institution and its decision-makers.”
To account for the growth of Covid-19 cases, educational institutions are developing alternate academic schedules and class configurations.
“My child’s school has prolonged distance learning by another week,” says Filipino father Ben Lebig. They’re attempting to assess the situation in order to determine if things will improve in a week’s time. I feel like I’m on the fence as a parent. My eighth-grader is eager to return to school, but it may be best to wait until the situation has stabilized before returning for face-to-face sessions.”