Pupils in Abu Dhabi can now take their masks off outdoors amid series of major changes

The move comes days after education regulators in the capital confirmed quarantine for close contacts was being scrapped in schools

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Pupils in Abu Dhabi are now allowed to remove their face masks during playtime outdoors, as part of major changes to Covid restrictions at private schools in the emirate.

The move, which will be welcomed by many parents, comes days after education regulators in the capital confirmed quarantine for close contacts was being scrapped in schools.

Previously, face masks were mandatory in all areas and close contacts were transferred to distance learning for 10 days.

Under the new rules, pupils in Year 2 and above must still wear face masks while indoors, but they can remove them when they go outside to play.

Children in kindergarten and Year 1 were never required to wear masks.

Other changes for schools include:

  • Physical distancing is now optional outdoors
  • All field trips can resume (schools to follow precautionary measures of the place they are visiting)
  • All sports activities and competitions can resume for pupils of all ages
  • In-school events and activities, including school assemblies, can be carried out with a capacity of up to 90 per cent
  • Bus capacity is now 100 per cent

Last week, schools were informed that close contacts of Covid cases will continue to be identified and informed. They can now keep attending school in person but need to take PCR tests.

Pupils are only required to take tests on the first and fourth days.

However, any teachers and employees who know they have been exposed to the virus must take PCR tests for five consecutive days, in line with the latest government announcement.

Parents will be asked to share a screenshot from the Al Hosn app of the results.

Classes will move to distance learning for seven days if there are three or more Covid cases, as they do currently.

And pupils with Covid will still be required to isolate for 10 days.

All of the changes, including close contact rules, also apply to nurseries.

The moves are part of the gradual unwinding of coronavirus restrictions as the country adapts to living with the virus.

Nurseries, schools and universities in Dubai announced similar changes earlier this week. Restrictions on bubble sizes were also removed for children under the age of 6 in Dubai.

The changes came after authorities eased coronavirus rules in public places last Friday, making face masks optional outdoors across the UAE.

Masks do however remain mandatory inside, and rules on physical distancing are still in place.

In other changes, close contacts of positive cases no longer have to quarantine.

That means people who know they have been exposed to the virus are now free to leave their homes at any time, but they must take PCR tests for five consecutive days. Daily testing is not, however, required in Dubai, which sets its own rules.

PCR testing was scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers across the country.

But anyone who is not vaccinated must show a negative PCR test conducted not more than 48 hours before departure, or a recovery certificate with a QR code proving they have had the virus within a month of travel.

Abu Dhabi ended the use of tracking wristbands and its green list system. Officials also removed all controls on the border with Dubai, lifting the requirement to show the Al Hosn Green Pass when entering the emirate.

Updated: March 09, 2022, 12:09 PM