All schools and nurseries in Ajman move to distance learning

'Frustrating but necessary': parents and teachers say protecting health is paramount

Ajman, UAE, April 16, 2017.  Students entering and leaving the Manar Al Iman Charity Private School.  The school enrolled 800 Syrian boys age 5 to 16.
Victor Besa for The National
ID: 19828
Reporter:  Nawal Al Ramahi
National *** Local Caption ***  VB_041617_na-charity school-1.jpg
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Parents and teachers in Ajman say the move to online learning is frustrating but necessary.

The UAE Ministry of Education and Ajman’s crisis authority suspended face-to-face learning at all schools and nurseries in the emirate last Friday.

Authorities said the move was intended to curb the spread of Covid-19 and protect public health.

The UAE announced a high of 17 deaths from Covid-19 patients on Tuesday and new infections reached 3,310, the highest in six days.

We are all aware it's for the sake and safety of our children, but there is so much stress now that we cannot handle it any more

Cases have increased since January, a period that coincides with  a major UAE-wide vaccination programme.

“It was sudden,” said Ibrahim Barakeh, director of Al Shola Schools Group. “We were not expecting this decision. I don’t see that Covid-19 cases are widespread in schools but we followed regulations and immediately moved our branch in Ajman to online learning.”

Mr Barakeh believes the decision should have been flexible to allow some employees to work from the school.

“On Sunday morning we received a warning because our accountant, receptionist and the registration officer were in school assisting some parents.

“Some parents needed certificates and needed to re-register their children and the decision did not allow us to assist them while being at the school,” he said.

Suzanne Watson, principal at Ajman Modern School, said the decision to move schools online was the right one to prevent Covid-19 cases snowballing in the UAE.

The school opened for in-person classes in the second term but closed again in mid-January after it had a few Covid-19 cases.

Children have had an unprecedented year of upheaval. The National
Children have had an unprecedented year of upheaval. The National

"People had gone on vacation and let their guard down, and we made a decision at our school to move to distance learning to ensure no one was put at risk," Ms Watson said.

“We were ready to go back to in-person lessons next week but we saw what was happening in the country and decided we did not want to bring everyone back on campus and then go back to online learning.”

Ms Watson said it was frustrating for schools to move or stay online but institutions were trying to provide the best quality education from a distance.

“It is frustrating but also necessary if you see the rise in cases,” she said.

Ajman Modern School has close to 400 pupils from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Some parents in the emirate were frustrated by the decision to move schools online.

“I have no more patience to sit and teach my twin daughters, who are in kindergarten,” said Taghreed, a Jordanian mother of three.

Diana Ahmad was considering hiring a private tutor to sit with her son in Grade 1 during online classes and a nanny to babysit her two-year-old.

“I have to go to work and with schools and nurseries closed, I’m desperate now,” she said.

“We are all aware it’s for the sake and safety of our children, but there is so much stress now that we cannot handle it any more.”

Pupils in Dubai’s private schools have been back in class for in-person lessons since September.

Abu Dhabi private-school pupils will return to face-to-face lessons on February 14 after six weeks of distance learning.

Public schools across the emirates will open for in-person lessons on Sunday, although pupils may choose to study online.

UAE schools – a year of upheaval