Saudi Arabia announces return to classrooms for next academic year

Only fully inoculated pupils can attend classes, while others will continue to learn online

Saudi Arabia will resume in-person learning for school pupils at intermediate and secondary levels for the new academic year starting on August 29.

Students at universities and technical training institutes will also revert to face-to-face classes.

Only pupils and students who have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be allowed to attend, Education Minister Hamad Al Sheikh said on Thursday, while mapping a return to classrooms for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic broke out early last year.

Mr Al Sheikh said 93 per cent of students in general education had received at least one dose of vaccine, while 37 per cent had received two.

“Among university students, those who received one dose amounted to 85 per cent and those who received two doses accounted for 59 per cent,” he said.

Students who have not been fully inoculated will continue learning online through lessons uploaded daily by teachers to the Madrasati platform, Mr Al Sheikh said.

Primary and kindergarten students will start their academic year with remote learning until October 30.

The schedule for return to in-person learning will apply to state and private institutions, the minister said.

In-person teaching will be suspended for 10 days in any classroom where a Covid case is detected. Lessons would continue remotely.

If cases are detected in more than one classroom, the entire school would switch to remote learning.

Mr El Sheikh outlined wide-ranging reforms to the Saudi education system that take effect in the coming academic year, including new curriculums and a switch from two to three terms.

He said the kingdom had spent more than 1 billion riyals ($267 million) on additional classrooms and resources, plus safeguards against the spread of coronavirus.

Updated: August 20th 2021, 4:37 PM