Dubai's private schools regulator has released a raft of safety measures to be enforced before classrooms welcome back pupils this September.
The extensive strategy, announced by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, calls for teachers and children aged six and above to wear masks at all times, except when eating or playing, to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Children must be seated 1.5 metres apart in classrooms, in line with physical-distancing practices.
Schools will be allowed to set classroom sizes as long as they are able to keep minimum distance between the seats.
Pupils will not change classrooms between lessons, instead teachers will move between the school building to teach lessons. The move aims to avoid crowding in halls as hundreds of children file in and out of classrooms.
There will be no buffets served in classrooms and physical education (PE) lessons must focus on sporting activities which do not require physical interaction.
No swimming lessons will be held.
Head teachers will decide on time pupils need to spend in school. An early plan had suggested the authorities may impose a work/home study split of 70/30.
Schools closed their doors in March as part of restrictions imposed across the Emirates in the face of the pandemic.
Teachers and pupils instead adopted remote learning to complete the school year.
Last month, the Ministry of Education announced plans to reopen schools in time for September, as long as safety guidelines were in place.
Comprehensive safety procedures also include:
- Mandatory thermal screening at the entrance of schools
- Temperature scanning for children taking the bus to school
- Banning anybody with a body temperature exceeding 37.5°C from entering school premises
- Allowing one family member or a guardian to enter the premises for drop off or pick up
- Staggered pupil entry and exit plan to avoid overcrowding at school gates
How to tackle a suspected Covid-19 case:
- Class teachers will be responsible for referring pupils who have Covid-19 symptoms – including a cough, body aches, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhoea and nausea, and headache – to the school nurse for further screening
- If a child or staff member begin to show symptoms of Covid-19 while at school, they will be isolated instantly
- The child's parent or guardian will be notified immediately and the patient will be taken to hospital
- The pupil would not be allowed to return to school until a PCR result is obtained. If the result is negative but there remains a risk that it may be a Covid-19 case, the patient will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. If the result is negative and doctors say it is not a probable Covid-19 case, the child will be allowed to return to school provided there are no symptoms.
- If a pupil tests positive for Covid-19, contact tracing will be carried out, including teachers and classmates of the pupils, which may mean anyone who spent more than 15 minutes in a proximity of two metres with the patient, from the day of the onset of symptoms, or the day of the positive PCR test, will need to quarantine for 14 days
- In case of Covid-19 emergency, the school must follow their guidelines for emergencies set by the qualified school nurse or doctor.
- The person in charge of health and safety should ensure the child is accompanied by an adult wearing protective gear when taken home or to the hospital
- If staff, guests, or pupils are found with Covid-19, they cannot return to school until they are granted a clearance certificate by the Dubai Health Authority