More than half of Abu Dhabi private school staff have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), the emirate's private school regulator, organised a two-week vaccination drive this month that led to about 15,000 staff members – about 60 per cent of the total staff – receiving the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine.
The voluntary drive was open to 222 private and charter schools throughout Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Al Dhafra region and was held between January 17 and 26.
Each participating school was designated a day to conduct vaccinations on campus, with medical workers from the Department of Health Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre administering the jabs.
The drive was part of a larger nationwide effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by vaccinating 50 per cent of the population by the end of April.
“Our upmost priority is to ensure the health and safety of our education and school community, and to support the government’s efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19,” said Ayesha Al Blooshi, Adek's Covid-19 incident management team leader.
"This is our national duty, and our community has demonstrated unwavering support for the vaccination drive.”
At Adek's headquarters, more than 400 private and charter schoolteachers, administration and operations staff, as well as their immediate family members, were vaccinated.
An appointment for the second dose, required after 21 days, was set for those vaccinated.
Nicola Neethling, vice principal at Raha International School in Abu Dhabi, said a little over half of their staff had received either their first or second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The school has 380 staff members across both their Gardens and Khalifa City campuses.
Steven Lupton, vice principal at Repton School Abu Dhabi, said their entire senior leadership team had already had taken both doses of the vaccine, and more than 70 percent of the school's 180-member-strong staff has been inoculated.
He said health authorities in Abu Dhabi had provided an on-campus service for school employees and their families.
Dubai schools say most staff have had vaccine
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai's private education regulator, is also leading a drive to get teachers vaccinated with many schools reporting that the majority of their staff have been immunised.
Several schools in Dubai closed their classrooms and moved lessons online amid a surge in cases this month.
Fiona Cottam, principal at Hartland International School in Dubai, said 60 per cent of their 82 teachers and 140 staff had been vaccinated.
“I am encouraging teachers and all staff at the school to take the vaccine,” she said.
“However, this remains a personal choice so there is no undue pressure.”
“It is important that we protect ourselves and our community as much as we can."
The school organised on-site vaccinations for a day.
If a teacher gets an appointment, other staff members try to cover their lessons.
Heads of schools said authorities are helping to prioritise teachers, when seeking appointments.
“We are grateful for the additional flexibility that has been offered to those involved in education and we are taking advantage of that push and drive,” Ms Cottam.
Brendon Fulton, principal at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, said close to 70 per cent of their 130 staff had been vaccinated.
The school arranged for appointments all teachers, staff, and their families.
“Teachers are putting themselves at risk every day by being in the classroom with multiple pupils," he said.
“Being vaccinated will help to ensure that they feel safe and are able to effectively carry out their roles.
“Although not mandatory, we are strongly encouraging them to get the vaccine.”
Paul Slater, vice president of safety, health and environment for GEMS Education, said the group had implemented a vaccine drive across their schools, and is working with the Dubai Health Authority to establish vaccination centres at some schools.
"A good proportion of staff have already received their first dose of the vaccines and the number is increasing every day," said Mr Slater.
"Our network-wide vaccination campaign is in full swing and we continue to urge more and more staff to get vaccinated.
David Cook, headmaster at Repton Dubai, said he worked with the health authorities to make block appointments at vaccination centres for teachers and support staff.
Close to half of them have received the first dose of the vaccination.
"The authorities have supported schools and teachers, by facilitating group vaccination appointments but there are several categories of essential workers who also require vaccination support, if life is to return to a semblance of normality," said Mr Cook.