Distance learning: UAE pupils ready to mark attendance at 8am on Sunday

Schools are encouraging pupils to fit some exercise and keep tidy as they learn from home

Schools in the UAE are busy preparing for the first day of distance learning on Sunday and shared timetables of what a pupil’s typical day will look like.

School and university campuses have been shut down temporarily to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as classes move online until the end of March.

There are almost 1.1 million pupils in the country's 1,262 public and private schools, of which 810,000 are in private education.

Even though most schools are offering flexible programmes, pupils are required to mark attendance in the morning.

A learning day will follow regular school hours, however, it can vary as pupils may be personalised schedules because of working parents.

Brendon Fulton, executive principal at Dubai British Schools, said all 2,200 pupils in two campuses will have to record attendance by 8am.

Flexibility will be offered to any families stuck abroad and on different time zones.

"Our primary and secondary students will have timetabled lessons and activities. Pupils will receive tasks and instructions either through videos, instructional materials and interactive lessons to complete activities and exercise so they can get feedback," Mr Fulton told The National.

“The timetable also consists of many breaks, which include physical activity break, brain breaks, musical activities and lots of opportunities to ensure students aren’t sat in front of the screen all day.”

Pupils are not expected to be in their school uniforms - but pajamas and swim wear are prohibited.

Children can dress in smart casuals for remote learning and live lessons.

The school is using online platforms like SeeSaw, Show My Homework and Microsoft Team to share assignments and stream live lessons.

The learning day at the Gems Wellington International School will start at 7.40am and pupils are required to mark themselves ‘present’ by 8am.

All of the 2,700 students at the school can expect to have timetables similar to the schedule they followed on campus.

However, there’s flexibility for families with younger students.

“On Sunday, they’ll have the classes they would normally have on a Sunday. We’re also encouraging students to take breaks in between sessions. All lessons are expected to be completed by 3pm, depending on the age group,” said Maryssa O’ Connor, the principal of the school.

The all-girl Al Mizhar American Academy is taking a different approach for their 550 students, by allowing families to build their own timetable.

Casey Cosgray, principal of the school, said this is to ensure they meet the needs of each family.

“We are trying to differentiate and individualise the needs of every family. As you know some families have one child, some have five or more,” she said.

We know there are going to be working mothers and fathers at home who'll be trying to facilitate all of this, so their work might have to come first one day and learning in the evening

“We are recommending that each family designs their own schedule. If they want to follow the typical school schedule, that’s one strategy. All of our teachers are working off those timetables.

“We know there are going to be working mothers and fathers at home who’ll be trying to facilitate all of this, so their work might have to come first one day and learning might take place in the evening.”

The Credence High School, an Indian CBSE-curriculum school with 700 students, will have five classes daily.

Their online school day will be from 8am to 2pm and includes five classes that will be an hour long.

For younger pupils, teachers have recorded videos and their parents will be asked to guide them.

“We’ll be using Google tools and Zoom to carry out our learning,” said Shivender Kumar, the vice principal of the school.