UAE public schools to continue distance learning until further notice

Pupils in grades 9 to 12 were to return to classrooms on Sunday after two weeks of distance learning

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Pupils at public schools across the UAE will continue to study remotely until further notice, a Ministry of Education official confirmed to The National.

Pupils in grades nine to 12, known as cycle three, were scheduled to return to classrooms on January 17, but schools would have their capacity limited to 50 per cent to prevent crowding and ensure physical distancing.

It will be the second time the Ministry of Education has postponed in-person learning at classrooms amid a rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country.

A public teacher in the UAE said schools had been told they would remain online until further notice.

The decision was made to prevent the spread of the virus after the country reported a steep rise in cases in January.

Authorities recorded 3,362 new cases on Wednesday, exceeding the highest daily infection record, set the previous day.

Schools were initially set to open for in-person classes on January 3 but, on December 30, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee, in co-ordination with the Department of Education and Knowledge, said remote learning would continue for the first two weeks instead "to protect the health and safety of students, teachers and school staff".

This week, the Ministry of Education released its plan for the safe return of public school pupils to classrooms across the country.

They had said some pupils would resume in-person classes from January 17 – the beginning of the third week of second term – after two weeks of distance learning.

The decision from the ministry does not effect private school pupils in Abu Dhabi, who will return to classrooms on Sunday.

The Department of Education and Knowledge, Abu Dhabi's private education regulator, told The National on Wednesday that in-person lessons would resume after schools adopted distance learning for the first two weeks of the new term.
In Dubai, some private schools closed temporarily after an increase in cases of Covid-19 among pupils.
Private schools can get permission to swap from in-person to online learning.

Mohammed Darwish, chief executive of Permits and Compliance at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai's private education regulator, said: "All private schools in Dubai continue to provide high-quality teaching and learning, whether online or face to face.
"During this time, it's important that we place our trust in the health and safety protocols that have been designed to protect school communities.
"These protocols give schools and parents flexibility to switch between distance and face-to-face learning so that pupils and staff can be safe in all circumstances.
"We're continuing to work closely with schools, parents and other government entities to make sure that protocols are followed and learning continues."