Dubai Schools Reopen In September: Are Parents Ready To Send Their Kids Back To School?

by Vaishnavi Venkataraman
Dubai Schools Reopen In September: Are Parents Ready To Send Their Kids Back To School?

Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) announced that schools in Dubai will reopen in September. It further added that all schools must adhere to certain rules and regulations. However, are parents ready to send their kids back to school? CT Dubai spoke to five moms to find out their views. Here’s what they had to say:

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Parents With Younger Kids Worried

“We are happy that Dubai’s covid cases have reduced. However, sending kids back to school is a huge concern. More so, for kids in primary classes because there is only so much that parents and teachers can create awareness or train them. At the end of the day, they are kids and it is difficult to keep an eye on every kid, even though they may be divided into smaller groups,” said Nemah, a mother of a 5-year old, who goes to a British curriculum school. Meanwhile also read this story on how A 12-Year-Old Girl In Dubai Swam For 50km At Home To Support Frontline Workers.

Some parents also say they are considering keeping their kids back at home, and letting them skip a year. However, they admit that this decision will come with its own set of problems.

“My concern is that my child is just 7 and at this age, I do not trust her to be careful about touching surfaces or face. I would rather that the first few months, they keep the distance learning then gradually move to blended or mix distance learning and face to face. For ages, 10 and above, I think things might be easier, because they are mature enough to follow the hygiene and social distancing”, said Elizabeth Tabora, a Project co-ordinator in Dubai.

Another mother- Pallavi Bhatia, a home maker said her son is very easily susceptible to infections and falls sick at the drop of a hat. Pallavi worries if sending her 5 year old back to school might invite more problems.

Distance Learning Alone Is Not The Way Forward

Parents of higher classes are worried about their kids’ board exams. Higher secondary kids need more support from the teacher and unfortunately they are having to go through distance learning. “My daughter spends more than six to seven hours finishing off her homework and assignments. Apart from added burden, the screen time is also a big concern. Looking into the screen for over 6 hours in a day can be daunting, and more so because they are kids. Although times might be uncertain, it’s best to kick off a methodology that will at least provide partial-school-partial-distance learning for kids”, said Aiman, a business analyst in Dubai.

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A 50-50 Mindset

Another parent, Nawal Ahmed said she is in a 50-50 mindset about sending her son back to school. “While I am worried about him being safe and following all the instructions in school, I also think kids will adapt fast. Moreover, kids instantly listen to their teacher, as opposed to parents. Taking this into consideration, I think things should be fine if schools have strict rules and guidelines in place. Lastly, as a parent, I will take all necessary precautions once my son returns from school. So, that way we know things are under control at both ends. Hopefully, things will be fine.” Nawal’s son goes to Year 1 in a British curriculum school in Dubai.

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A Hopeful Future

On the other hand, there are parents who also think getting back to school is good as we cannot keep kids concealed from the outside world for too long. Mariam Samy, an Asset Manager at Majid Al Futtaim, Dubai feels it is important for children to return to normality as soon as possible. “We cannot keep our children from the outside world, as this will affect them physically and emotionally. As a mother for sure I am worried about the arrangements in the classroom and the social distancing ruled in school but I will try my level best to educate my kids on how to stay safe, sanitize their hands regularly, wear face mask etc. I think we need to start accepting the new normal.”

In fact, parents of primary kids also echoed that it is better for kids to resume school for the new academic year. Anjana Vaidyanath, a Pre-school teacher in Dubai said: “Although not 100% sure if it is safe, I definitely would prefer my child going back to school for the new academic year. I believe the schools would adhere to all safety precautions levied by the government and maintain good hygiene, cleanliness and ensure a safe environment for the children. At the age of 6, I truly believe it is more important for my child to work on her PSED and Physical Development and hence online education or distance learning might not help her much. Also with parents returning to work, it wouldn’t make e-learning any easy at all!”

Also check out the KHDA Protocols For The Reopening Of Private Schools In Dubai.

Guidelines Schools Must Follow

  1. Regular temperature checks
  2. Reducing classroom capacity
  3. Ensuring strict social distancing measures
  4. Limiting gatherings like assemblies, sports events and other activities that will require large groups of students
  5. Staggered meal times to avoid over crowding
  6. Sterilizing the school premises including all class rooms, libraries, and other activity areas
  7. Ensuring a trained health professional is in campus at all times
  8. School buses will operate at 30% capacity, with temperature checks done prior to boarding

That said, KHDA also added that no one rule will work perfectly for all schools. Each school will operate in a way that best suits them so all guidelines are met. Here are some options schools might pick:

  1. Schools can choose a full return to classrooms. That would mean all students return to classroom at the same time
  2. Continuing distance learning on a part- time basis
  3. Staggered shift basis- where students will be split on basis of shifts