UAE public secondary schools to require negative PCR test before first day of term: Ncema

Masks will remain mandatory indoors but social distancing regulations are no longer compulsory

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Pupils aged 12 and over, teaching and administrative staff and service providers at government schools must obtain a negative PCR test result no more than 96 hours before the start of the new school year, officials said on Tuesday.

The announcement by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority comes as public and private school pupils prepare to return to lessons next Monday, after the summer break.

Ncema has said periodic tests will not be required as the UAE has adopted a symptom-only strategy since last term, said Hazza Almansoori, official education spokesman at government briefings.

Masks will remain mandatory in indoor spaces, Mr Almansoori said.

The option to learn and work remotely is available for pupils and staff who are infected with Covid-19, as well as anyone with respiratory symptoms. A PCR test will confirm whether these symptoms are caused by the coronavirus.

All pupils can attend government schools in person, including those who are not vaccinated for health reasons or are excluded from vaccination.

The authority also said anyone entering university campuses who are not vaccinated for health reasons or who are excluded from vaccination will need to show green status on their Al Hosn app.

Thermal testing of students and employees has been ended, said the authority.

Compulsory social distancing protocols inside educational facilities have also been cancelled. Instead, such restrictions are being left to the discretion of each facility — including arrangements inside school buses.

Private schools

Private school regulators in Abu Dhabi and Dubai have not announced their guidelines for the coming school year.

Under current rules, private school pupils in Dubai will not be asked to undergo coronavirus testing before returning to the classroom if they have travelled outside the country.

The Knowledge and Development Authority’s last updated guidelines state there are no testing requirements.

But caution is advised when travelling abroad, and any child showing symptoms of Covid-19 should stay off school and take a PCR test, officials said.

Pupils and staff who are close contacts of a Covid case but do not have symptoms, do not need to isolate and can attend school.

Face masks are no longer required outdoors but are compulsory indoors.

In Abu Dhabi, pupils and staff need to maintain green status on the Al Hosn smartphone app.

The pass will stay green for 14 days after a negative test for vaccinated pupils aged 16 and older, teachers and other staff, and 30 days for under-16s.

All pupils must be free of any Covid-19-related symptoms and maintain their green status on the Al Hosn app in accordance with their age category.

Covid rules

Mass screening and a national vaccination campaign have been vital in the UAE's strategy to curb the spread of the virus, which swept around the globe more than two and a half years ago.

Some restrictions have been eased in recent months — including the wearing of masks outdoors and close contact procedures — in line with a measured return to normality.

However, masks must still be worn in all public indoor areas and venues, including shopping malls and schools.

In June, authorities said the wearing of face masks in indoor public settings would be strictly enforced, with fines of Dh3,000 ($816) for breaching rules.

Timeline: a global fight against Covid-19

Updated: August 23, 2022, 3:23 PM