Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi school confirms full-time return to classroom for most pupils

Brighton College Abu Dhabi will resume lessons from August 30

ABU DHABI ,  UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , AUGUST 22 – 2019 :- Students receiving their GCSE results at the Brighton College in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Kelly
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A private school in Abu Dhabi has said the majority of its children will return to the classroom full-time in the new academic year.

Brighton College Abu Dhabi, which has about 1,800 pupils, will welcome back prep school (Year 1 to 6) and senior school learners (Year 7 to 13) on a full-time basis from August 30.

Pre-school pupils will initially do half days when lessons resume.

Education authorities have given schools the choice to allow pupils into school full time, on alternate days, for half days, alternating weeks, or a combination.

Our schools will look slightly different when we re-open, but we have plans in place to educate our students and parents on these changes in the near future

Private schools in the emirate have until Thursday, July 30, to inform parents of the model they will follow.

Schools across the country closed their doors in March to help stem the spread of coronavirus, moving to distance learning in order to complete the academic year.

Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) set out rules designed to keep children safe when they return to classes, including pupils over the age of six wearing face masks, temperature checks before entering the building, social distancing of 1.5 metres for all and an intensive cleaning programme.

“Brighton College is now pleased to announce that, having taken account of the findings from parent surveys, we will be reopening on August 30. Reflecting the views of the overwhelming majority of respondents, the building will be fully used, commensurate with safety and social distancing requirements," a notice to parents read.

"We are delighted to be able to accommodate pupils from all parts of the college to spend time on site again on a daily basis for social and academic reasons.

ALTON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A child wears a mask as she has her temperature checked at the entrance to Alton Towers on July 4, 2020 in Alton, England. The popular theme park reopens with coronavirus safety measures in place today, after the British government eased their coronavirus restrictions to allow some leisure and hospitality businesses to reopen after more than 3 months in lockdown.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
All pupils and staff will have to undergo a swab test to prove they are free of Covid-19 before they return to classrooms in Sharjah. Getty images

"Access to the curriculum will be available to those who are, for health reasons, not yet in a position to attend in person."

The school has said it will follow a staggered approach for year groups in the first week, in order to teach pupils about entry procedures and to ensure the new health and safety measures were implemented.

Parents will be informed of details in mid-August.

The school has said it will prioritise examination years, all of whom will be present at the school from the first day.

"Other groups will then follow during the first week until we have all prep school and senior school pupils in full time, and the pre-prep on a half-day basis until further notice."

A survey by Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) found that almost half of parents in Abu Dhabi support plans to reopen schools in the new academic year.

More than 158,000 people responded to the poll which found that 45 per cent of parents backed a full return to the classroom, while 34 per cent preferred to continue distance learning.

Aldar Academies, Abu Dhabi's largest school operator, said its schools will welcome pupils back on August 30. It operates 18 schools with more than 20,000 pupils.

"We will be ready to welcome pupils and staff back under the new re-opening plans and revised learning models for in-person classes on August 30," said Dave Taylor, director of operations at Aldar Academies.

"Our central operational risk and safety team, in conjunction with the leadership teams at the schools, have been working hard to ensure all our schools will be operating with the very best safety and sanitisation measures in place.

"Our schools will look slightly different when we re-open, but we have plans in place to educate our students and parents on these changes in the near future."

Each school will have a mix of physical and distance learning models to suit their circumstances.

Schools plan return to classrooms

Last week, The National reported that headteachers in Abu Dhabi were creating "return to campus" plans to welcome pupils after the summer holidays.

Mayoor Private School, which has 2,000 pupils, was considering having half the pupils in school one day and the rest learning at school the next day.

There will be 15 tables and chairs in each classroom.

All pupils and staff will be tested for Covid-19 before returning to school.

Brendan Aspell, principal of Wales International school in Abu Dhabi, said pupils will be split in two sets to enforce social distancing.

Half the class will learn a subject in one room, while the other half will be taught a different subject in another room.


Gallery: Precautions at Jumeira Baccalaureate School