Coronavirus: UAE to trial distance learning on Wednesday

An hour-long trial is to be held on Wednesday to ensure all systems are working before a complete roll-out next week

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The Ministry of Education will trial a distance learning programme on Wednesday, before a nationwide roll-out next week.

The ministry said the hour-long pilot launch, from 4.30pm, was being held to ensure all systems were working smoothly for pupils to use beginning Sunday.

Nurseries, schools and universities were ordered to close for a month, beginning March 8, in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19. At the time, the ministry said pupils and students would be on spring break for the first two weeks and would undergo distance learning from home for the remaining fortnight.

"This [trial] aims to prepare students and ensure the effectiveness of using the system easily," the ministry said on Tuesday.

It said school administrations must draft working plans to adopt interactive learning programmes for teachers and pupils across all academic levels.

The plans should include instructions for teachers to encourage pupils to use the system, and provide motivation for parents to "ensure an effective educational experience for pupils".

This week, the ministry will organise remote specialist training sessions for 25,000 teachers and administrative personnel before the launch of the initiative next week.

Distance learning will begin Sunday, March 22, with pupils expected to return to classrooms on April 5.

Last week, the ministry dismissed rumours that schools will close until the start of the next academic term due to fears over coronavirus.

On Wednesday, numerous social media posts alleged schools would remain shut until September and that distance e-learning measures would be implemented instead.

But officials rejected the suggestion that the plan had been extended, urging residents "not to pay heed to such rumours".

''We urge members of the public … to refer to updates and instructions from official channels and sources on the ministry's website and social media accounts,'' a statement said.

''We will immediately announce any new developments. The interest of the students will always remain our top priority and the measures we take will serve their interest in tandem with the current situation."

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