Abu Dhabi schools relieved to drop Covid distancing and bubble rules

Hundreds of thousands of private school pupils across the UAE have returned to class for the new academic year

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Head teachers and pupils at private schools in the capital on Monday said they were happy that schools have opened with fewer social restrictions as Covid-19 cases decline steadily.

Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) announced protocols for private and charter schools and nurseries and said there would be no physical distancing requirements.

In the absence of bubbles, pupils and teachers are permitted to interact with each other and use different parts of a school building.

Sarah Weaver, principal at Al Mamoura Academy in Abu Dhabi, said: “Macro-bubbles don’t exist [this year] and that’s the most exciting thing for us as a school.

It opens up the whole school to all the children
Sarah Weaver, principal, Al Mamoura Academy

"This is really exciting as it opens up the whole school to all the children. We have a campsite in the school and a 3D periodic table, so pupils across the whole school can access our facilities. This will really enhance learning and take it to another level.

"It’s not just the pupils in a particular bubble where the facility might exist who can use it, but everyone can go across the school."

Ms Weaver said staff across all sections of the school would now be able to interact, as many had no chance to get to know each other due to Covid restrictions in place until the last term.

"Improving learning and building relationships is a significant change after the easing of restrictions," she said.

She said new pupils had come in on Monday to meet their teachers.

“The first day back has been great," she said. "We have had our house mascots out, taking the nerves away from the first day of school."

Pupils at Al Mamoura Academy in Abu Dhabi return to school on Monday after the summer break. Victor Besa / The National

Al Mamoura Academy is also launching a year of reading in which various year groups will participate.

Maryam Yassin, 16, and Sondos Yassin, 15, were excited, as Monday marked their first day at Al Mamoura Academy.

The sisters, who have moved from another private school in Abu Dhabi, said they had been learning online for the past two years and were eager to return to in-person learning.

“The first day was so good" said Maryam. "We met our teachers. It’s so nice to start studying and be in a school building again. It was difficult online.

“We are excited to start again and have fun at school. There are so many activities that we can do and which will help us learn more."

Sondos said she was excited to start school and interact with new people.

Dr Beno Kurien, principal at International Indian School - Abu Dhabi, said what pleased him most regarding was that social distancing has been removed.

"Even the floor stickers for social distancing have been removed," he said.

“It is just like pre-Covid times in school. This is easing things for the school so we can have more pupils on campus.

“Earlier there were restrictions when teachers wanted to conduct activities and there were limitations so each activity had to be done individually."

He said now pupils and teachers could collaborate more and learning could be greater fun.

Updated: August 29, 2022, 12:17 PM