Abu Dhabi eases Covid-19 rules for nurseries

Guidelines include increasing the number of children within ‘bubbles’ and asking these groups to isolate in the event of a positive case instead of closing the venue

British Orchard Nursery staff arrange the sanitized toys on the table
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Nurseries in Abu Dhabi will no longer close when a single Covid-19 case is identified.

The decision is part of an updated list of rules for childcare that come into effect from July 1.

From that date, only the bubble of which the affected person was a part will have to stay at home, allowing the nursery to remain open.

If three or more bubbles are affected, the nursery must close for 10 days.

Bubbles can now include more children. There can be 12 members, up from eight, aged 45 days to 2 years, and 16, up from 10, for those aged 2 to 4.

Nurseries must not exceed the occupancy requirement of 3.5 square metres per child in each classroom, or five square metres in open areas.

The procedures also include gradual, rather than immediate, closure, if needed.

As per the update, the bubble in which a positive case is detected will be closed for 10 days.

If three or more bubbles are affected, the entire nursery will close for 10 days.

Authorities said the changes follow a review of detailed statistics related to Covid-19 cases in children’s nurseries in Abu Dhabi that showed a “consistently low infection rate”.

Kamil Najjar, chief executive of Kids First Group, said the updated regulations would “ensure a safe and healthy educational environment for all children, while supporting the recovery of the nursery sector and helping parents who need childcare after the return of businesses to the workplace”.

Mariam Al Hallami, division director of Early Childhood Education at Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge, said nurseries play a crucial role in shaping children’s futures.

“Nurseries are also critical in supporting parents’ careers and ability to work by providing this essential service,” she said.

“During the pandemic, parents, their employers, and nursery operators worked closely together to minimise the impact of reducing nurseries’ capacity while also ensuring children receive the important care they need.”

Earlier, federal officials said all public schools would return to in-person learning in September.

Last week, private schools in Abu Dhabi were told normal classes would resume after the summer break.

Nurseries were among the first businesses to close last March after the pandemic was declared.

They were allowed to reopen in the capital in late August providing they followed strict rules, including regular Covid-19 screening for staff.

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