The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee has approved the physical return of students to in-person classes in schools for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year. The committee took the decision after consultations with school operators, principals, teachers, and parents across the emirate in May and June this year.
Noting that over 80 percent of teachers and school staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), health authorities, and other related entities approved the resumption of in-person classes. The authorities are aiming to ensure the physical return of students to the classroom while keeping everyone's health and safety.
Sara Musallam, chairwoman of Adek, noted that the authorities are taking all possible measures to ensure that students and parents are comfortable in returning to schools for in-person classes.
"The pandemic has tested the resolve of teachers, parents, and school staff, our unsung heroes, who came together and have gone to incredible lengths to ensure that our children receive the best education possible during these challenging times," said Sara Musallam.
The committee carried out an independent survey with more than 117,000 parents representing over 230,000 students across private, public and charter schools to inform them about the decision.
With the participation of UAE citizens and residents, the 'Parents Survey on Schools Reopening' found that 88 percent of parents extended their support to return to in-person classes in schools. According to the survey, parents also agreed on reducing physical distancing requirements in order to allow students to attend school on more days per week.
Parents also expressed their support towards higher vaccination efforts to ensure that students and other teaching staff are more confident about returning to in-person learning.
The UAE is currently administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children aged over 12 to protect them against the disease. A study was also launched recently into the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine among children as young as 3.
The UAE authorities are scheduled to issue school operational protocols related to COVID-19 by 15 August.
In addition, the committee has approved the provision of full-time remote learning as an option for parents who would it to continue for their children.
Adek has affirmed that the authorities will closely monitor the physical return of students to schools and evaluate the adherence to safety measures. Adek called on the entire school community to cooperate with the authorities in complying with precautionary measures with the aim to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, and entire school staff.
Earlier this week, UAE’s new public school operator stated that students will complete the current academic year on June 30 as scheduled. Last month, Emirates Schools Establishment, the UAE's operator of government schools and kindergartens, said that pupils in Years 4 to 12 studying at state schools across the country would give the online exams in June. Meanwhile, students in Years 1 to 3 are not required to sit for exams and will be marked on the basis of their assessment.
For the remaining school days of the current academic year, the ESE has approved a plan to continue with distance learning after the examination period that is concluding on June 17, as reported by the state news agency WAM. ESE added that third-term exams marked the end of the curriculum, and not the current academic year.