Coronavirus: No testing for pupils in Dubai's private schools

The decision affects almost 300,000 children in the city’s independent education sector

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Pupils in Dubai’s private schools will not be required to take a Covid-19 test before they return to classrooms next week, the city’s education regulator said.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority updated more than 200 schools on Tuesday, before the new term begins on Sunday.

“As we look forward to many students returning to school next week, we would like to confirm that Covid-19 PCR [swab] testing is not mandatory for students,” the regulator said in an official notice.

“All school staff members are required to carry out a Covid-19 PCR test prior to school reopening for the new academic year/term.

“Staff who have carried out a Covid-19 test in Dubai recently and have a copy of the results will not be required to re-take the test.”

Had mandatory testing been imposed – as was the case in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi – as many as 295,000 children in Dubai’s private schools would have had to undergo screening this week.

In Sharjah, pupils of all ages must test negative for Covid-19 before returning to classes, as do teachers.

In Abu Dhabi, all pupils over the age of 12 must be tested, although pupils of high school age will not return to class until late September or early October, under a staggered plan. All teachers will be tested.

The Ministry of Education has not yet said whether government school pupils must be screened.

Earlier, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said he looked forward to a "safe start" to the school year for a million pupils across the country.

He was briefed by Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, and joined by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs.

“I heard from the Minister of Education about the latest preparations for the start of the next academic year,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Twitter.

“We look forward to a safe start and in accordance with the best safety standards for more than a million students within the education system in the Emirates.”