Public and private schools in Northern Emirates switch to distance learning

All schools and nurseries in the emirate will suspend classroom lessons, authorities confirm

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Schools across the Northern Emirates have returned to online learning following a rise of Covid-19 cases in the UAE.

All public and private schools and nurseries in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain have resumed distance learning until at least the end of the month.

In Sharjah, it was announced classroom lessons would be suspended for at least the next two weeks to curb the spread of the virus.

Authorities confirmed on Thursday that all private schools and nurseries would continue distance learning under safety measures.

Late on Saturday, the Ministry of Education announced the emirate's public schools would follow suit.

On Sunday, the Ministry said schools and nurseries in Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah would resume distance learning "until further notice".

The news came as a blow to some parents, who hoped their children would return to classroom again this week.

Ala Yousef, a 38-year-old Jordanian in Umm Al Quwain, said he and his wife have struggled to juggle work while overseeing their three young children's online studies.

“I have children in KG2 and grade 2 and it's not easy for my wife to attend to two children, who need supervision, especially with my constant absence from home due to the nature of my work,” said Mr Yousef, who is an operations manager for a chain of factories in the UAE, Germany and Jordan.

“A year ago, our children were being asked to avoid using smart gadgets, as studies have shown they affect their mental health, and now children as young as five are being told to sit for nearly five hours in front of a screen."

He said prolonged distance learning was causing friction among the family.

“I had to isolate myself in one room of my two-bedroom apartment and can hear screaming caused by the stress of distance learning.

“How can one parent attend to two children - if not more - at the same time?”

Home study also resumed in Ajman this month, after the emirate's crisis authority and the Ministry said it would halt face-to-face learning.

Pupils in Abu Dhabi returned to classrooms on Sunday after in-person lessons were delayed twice, since the new term began in January, because of concerns over infection rates.

Sharjah officials said the move back to online learning was made to safeguard the health of the school population.

Covid-19 cases have been on the rise since the turn of the year.

On Saturday, the UAE crossed 1,000 deaths since the start of the outbreak.

Officials have confirmed 345,605 infections to date, with 326,780 recoveries.