Summer travel tips for parents with children in Dubai and Abu Dhabi's schools

Everything from PCR test requirements to quarantine

Read also: Can I go on holiday from the UAE with children and which countries need a Covid vaccine?

As the school term comes to an end, and parents plan their summer holidays with their children, many families are travelling abroad.

Under 18's do not need to be vaccinated to travel, but most countries require even young children to have PCR tests.

Exemptions vary according to country, but Italy requires children over two years to test, and in the Maldives only babies under one are exempt.

The start of the new school term also needs to be considered, as pupils in Dubai have to quarantine from school for 10 days after travelling, unless they can show a negative PCR test taken in the last 48 hours.

The National looks at what parents need to know when it comes to kids, quarantine and Covid this summer.

Flying with children

Several countries have opened up quarantine-free travel corridors for vaccinated travellers from the UAE.

Most children, however, have not yet been vaccinated.

Under-18s do not need to be vaccinated to travel, instead most countries require children to have PCR tests 48 or 72 hours beforehand.

The requirements for each country are different, and change regularly depending on whether the UAE is on their red, amber or green list.

Check for the latest rules on the Emirates website or on the IATA travel regulations website.

Returning to the UAE - PCR tests

Children under the age of 12 are not required to show a negative PCR test on arrival in either Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

But many of the rules regarding PCR tests depend on the departure requirements of the country you are leaving, so check with IATA or your airline for the latest details at least 72 hours before your flight.

Plan ahead because PCR test results may take time to come through.

Back to school in Abu Dhabi

Only vaccinated people are allowed to enter public and private schools, nurseries and universities in Abu Dhabi from August 20.

The decision does not apply to those with a vaccination exemption registered on the Al Hosn app, nor to children aged 15 and under.

This means that by the start of the new school term, all school staff and children aged 16 and over must have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

At present, private schools in Abu Dhabi are waiting for updates from the authorities on testing policies for children and staff who have travelled outside the Emirates during the summer holidays.

In 2020, all pupils over the age of 12 had to be tested for Covid-19 before they could return to in-person classes in Abu Dhabi.

Also pupils who had travelled outside the UAE during summer holidays were asked to plan their return at least two weeks prior to the beginning of the new academic year, to meet any requirements of quarantine or Covid-19 required by the UAE Government.

These rules may change for the autumn term of 2021, as thousands of pupils over the age of 12 in the UAE have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Back to school for Dubai pupils

All pupils must declare their recent travel history by completing the Dubai Health Authority form online. The schools will keep these declarations on file.

Pupils who have returned from travel abroad also require a negative PCR test with a 48-hour validity, in order to resume learning at school.

If they do not have a negative test result, they will be required to do distance learning for 10 days from their arrival date.

Pupils who want to resume onsite learning without completing their 10-day quarantine, can produce a negative PCR test at any time.

Back to school for Dubai teachers

All school staff who have returned from travel abroad require a negative PCR test with a 48-hour validity, in order to resume working at school for the new academic year.

They must also declare their recent travel history by completing the DHA form online.

Staff who have carried out a Covid-19 test in Dubai on or after 20th August will be exempt from additional testing and have to present a copy of the results to the school.

During the autumn term, school staff who are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine but choose not to be vaccinated must take a PCR test every seven days, whether they are working remotely or face-to-face.

This applies to all private education institutes in Dubai, including early learning centres, schools, universities and training institutes.

However this is not necessary during the holidays, according to the KHDA website.

Back to nursery in Dubai

British Orchard Nursery staff sanitize the toys regularly. (Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)


Dubai nurseries have similar rules to schools in that pupils who have returned from travel abroad need to fill in the DHA travel form.

They also require a negative PCR test with a 48 hour validity, in order to go back to nursery.

Alternatively they could quarantine for 10 days, although some nurseries choose to extend the quarantine to 14 days.

Furthermore, if the child stays home, but his or her parent or sibling travel internationally, then the child is required to quarantine for 10 days.

If the household member can show a negative PCR test with a 48 hour validity, then the child can attend nursery without quarantining.

Back to school for Sharjah pupils

The Covid-19 rules in Sharjah have not changed since last term, but the emirate's private education authority (SPEA) said that precautionary measures issued last year, are being revised with the relevant authorities.

Last term, all educational staff and pupils over the age of 12 were required to take a PCR test before starting back at school.

Self-isolation is not currently required for pupils or staff, but some private schools have acted independently and asked their teachers to return to the country two weeks ahead of reopening, in case quarantine rules are made mandatory again.

Mother of two, Nora Abdelhameed said she was aware the rules could be updated, and has adjusted her plans accordingly.

“I'm flying to Egypt with my children for a holiday, but I have decided to return in mid August in case any changes are made to the Covid-19 rules for schools,” said the mother of two children, who will go into grades 3 and 12 next term.

Updated: July 11th 2021, 7:55 AM