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Dubai health chiefs have updated Covid-19 safety procedures for schools and universities in the emirate.
The new rules issued by Dubai Health Authority – which also cover nurseries, early childhood centres and centres for special needs – include reduced physical distancing requirements and quarantine periods.
Dr Hanan Obaid, director for health policies and standards at DHA's Health Regulation Sector, said the protocols applied to education institutions under the body's jurisdiction.
The updated Covid-19 rules include:
*Physical distancing requirements for pupils and students is now one metre instead of two. However, all preventive precautions such as wearing a face mask and regarding hand hygiene will continue
*The quarantine duration for a close contact has been reduced to seven days. Regardless of vaccination status, close contacts should quarantine for seven days and no PCR testing is required at the end of quarantine period if the person is symptom-free. However, if there are symptoms, the close contact must undergo a PCR test
*The isolation period for a person who has Covid-19 continues to be 10 days
*The Clearance Certificate (required after completion of isolation period for a positive case) will be issued automatically. Students and staff may return to the educational institution upon submission of the Clearance Certificate, or by calling 800-342 and requesting the certificate
“Our aim is to protect the health and wellbeing of students and staff members while ensuring the continuity of learning to the best possible extent," Dr Obaid said.
"These detailed guidelines provide clear, precise and comprehensive step-by-step protocols for the concerned educational institutions so that they are well prepared and equipped to provide a safe learning environment for students, as well as protect staff members.”
Dr Sawsan Al Nahas, acting head of the School Health Section at the DHA, said the regulations were in line with back to school rules announced by Dubai's private sector regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
“Educational institutions can reach us at any point in time," Dr Al Nahas said.
"Our communication channels are open and the aim is to continue to have a strong working relationship to support each other with a common mission to provide the safest possible learning environment for students, protect their health and the health of all the staff working in these institutions.”
Tens of thousands of pupils across Dubai returned to the classroom this week for the start of the new academic year.
Dubai's private schools will end all distance learning on October 3, after which pupils must return to classrooms.
A gradual return has been planned from the first day of term, which was Sunday.