Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) revealed the back-to-school policies laid down by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee for the academic year 2021/2022 are as follows:
• Play areas to reopen with Physical Education and extracurricular programs also reinstated under special arrangements.
• School canteens can now also resume live cooking services under special arrangements.
• School macro bubble system remains to reduce risk and magnitude of Covid-19 transmission and reduce shifts to distance learning.
• Bubble sizes for younger school students who do not practice physical distancing increased from 10 to 16 students per bubble.
• All school staff and students aged 16 years and over, barring those with official exemptions, must be fully vaccinated to return to and continue face-to-face learning.
In line with policies designed by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee, the new policies provide thorough safeguarding measures for all staff, pupils, and visitors across private and Charter schools and their amenities.
To help students resume face-to-face learning, communal areas essential to communication and socialization will resume, including play areas for younger students. Cooking will be permitted as long as designated staff members serve food per Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority regulations, such as serving food in individual portions.
Physical Education classes will resume along with sports such as swimming. All the sports-related activities will be carried out with schools to sanitize recreational areas and equipment between groups.
Likewise, extracurricular activities will also reopen with complete risk assessment and safe operation policies such as social distancing and wearing masks. Renting out school sports facilities to outside parties will remain suspended.
To guarantee students' safe return and support national vaccination efforts, ADEK collaborates with the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Public Health Center, Mubadala Health and Yas Mall to open a pop-up vaccination centre from August 3-7 and August 24-28. Yas Mall pop-up centre is part of attempts to encourage students to receive a Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Moreover, students who will turn 16 as schools reopen will have to be fully vaccinated to resume face-to-face learning. If a student or a staff member can not get vaccinated, they can enter school premises with an exemption certificate which should be displayed on the Al Hosn App. However, ADEK confirmed that special arrangements would be made for the unvaccinated students of 16 years and above to attempt critical exams.
Within school premises, physical distancing will be one meter in classrooms and throughout school grounds. Doing so will enable increased classroom capacities to allow the maximum number of students to get as much face-to-face contact with their teachers and peers.
While the back-to-school policies aim for a safe return to in-class education for maximum students, distance learning is an option available for children with chronic illnesses, those aged 16 and above who are not vaccinated, and those who wish to continue learning online if their school offers the model.
Abu Dhabi Government Media Office