Contactless thermal scanners and virus-killing UV lighting are among the key safety precautions lined up for Dubai’s first Covid-proof nursery.
New rules on how nurseries must operate in the pandemic era forced architects to rethink how buildings should be laid out.
A new Ladybird Nursery, scheduled to open next year in Al Barsha, promises strong safety standards in an attempt to reassure parents their youngsters are protected from the virus.
Those behind the project claim it will meet the highest environmental and energy standards, with its design focused on social distancing rules and government Covid-19 protocols.
"We always had thermal screening in mind for the new building," said Monica Valrani, chief executive at Ladybird Nurseries.
“We have seen UV lighting in the air-conditioning ducts work in other companies, so we thought the nursery would be the ideal setting to install them with coronavirus in mind.”
On completion in 2021, the facility will have capacity for 195 children, although current measures reduce that to 50 per cent to ensure adequate social distancing.
It will follow the British Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.
The group already has nurseries in Jumeirah 1 and Jumeirah Village Circle.
Children went back to nursery in September under tough new guidelines set by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
Regulations included mandatory Covid-19 tests for staff, temperature screening for all arrivals, staff face-masks and early learning bubbles of reduced class sizes.
Other measures call for regular cleaning of toys and equipment, and the mandatory changing of clothes by staff when they leave the nursery and return.
“The transition towards the government safety regulations was fairly smooth,” Ms Valrani said.
“It has been a month and we have had no issues up to now.
“There is signage everywhere and temperature checks are being done three times a day.
“A lot of extra measures are in place but good social distancing continues to be one of the most important.”
Staff made videos of themselves wearing protective equipment to send to children, before arriving back at the nursery to prepare them for their new environment.
It helped reduce the fear factor in younger children, Ms Valrani said.
The new nursery, which received academic plan approval from the Ministry of Education during the outbreak, will be in close proximity to several schools, including American School of Dubai, Dubai American Academy and Dubai International Academy.
In partnership with the Knowledge Fund of Dubai, the learning centre spread across 5,945 square metres will be built with the pandemic in mind.
"We believe that Ladybird Nursery and this project will be an exceptional added value to the education scene in Dubai," said Hesham Al Qaizi, chief executive of Dubai Government's Knowledge Fund.
"We gladly take on our mission with the simple yet cherished goal of ensuring a better and brighter tomorrow for our children."