The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has announced that it will continue to carry out regular inspections of all schools and nurseries across the emirate to ensure compliance with the necessary COVID-19 precautionary protocols. This development has come as schools across Abu Dhabi are reopening after months of pandemic shutdown.
The ADEK has underlined a number of penalties for violation of preventive regulations with fines ranging from Dh10,000 to Dh250,000. If violation of preventive protocols continues even after fines, schools would be forced to shift to distance learning provision. Parents can also remove their children from the school and demand fee refunds. Furthermore, non-compliant nurseries can be immediately fined or moved to distance learning for a week during the inspection.
In August 2020, ADEK carried out a thorough inspection across all schools in the emirate and issued No Objection Certificates to 220 compliant schools allowing them to reopen. In line with these efforts, the ADEK has made it compulsory to carry out further checks and inspections to ensure compliance with safety standards. Those schools and nurseries found flouting the guidelines will face strict penalties.
“We have to put the safety of our community first and ongoing inspections are vital to ensure parents have confidence in the safety protocols of our schools and nurseries," said ADEK undersecretary Amer Al Hammadi.
He further expressed hope that the penalties will not have to be exacted. Al Hammadi also expressed confidence in Abu Dhabi school and nursery communities and their desire to comply with the preventive regulations for the safety of all students, teachers, and other members.
As of February 2021, ADEK has inspected 221 schools that are reopening for in-classroom education and 119 operational nurseries. The inspections were carried out to track compliance of 62 criteria, including regular COVID-19 testing of staff and students aged 12 years and above; adherence to social distancing protocols; regular cleaning and disinfection programs; the existence of on-premise COVID task forces; PPE equipment standards; and daily routine checks by a nominated school compliance officer. These measures are aimed at ensuring that safety regulations are being followed by schools and nurseries across the emirate.
Amid regular inspection, ADEK has also affirmed that the ban on extra-curricular activities on school premises will continue to remain operational. However, light outdoor athletic activities will be allowed during normally scheduled PE classes while complying with social distancing rules. In addition, parents are also allowed to enter school premises if they present a negative PCR test result with 96-hour validity or present an ‘emergency use’ status on their Al Hosn App. New and prospective parents have also been allowed to carry out school tours.
The authorities have increased class sizes to a maximum of 30 students while adhering to the 1.5m social distancing protocol. Students in Grade 1 and above must wear compulsory face masks. At the kindergarten level, the maximum capacity of the class has been set at 25 students with 1.5-meter social distancing. The capacity of younger children will remain at a maximum of 10 students with the support of a dedicated teaching team.e