Back to school: Dubai sets coronavirus rules, students to wear masks, sit 1.5m apart

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Dubai rolled out on Sunday the coronavirus precautionary measures to be implemented when schools reopen for the new academic year, according to the emirate’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

Dubai authorities had said mid-May that schools in the emirate are set to open in September, after the UAE shut down all educational institutions nationwide to contain the spread of coronavirus and initiated the distance learning initiative.

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Since the beginning of March, Dubai authorities launched a sterlization program for private schools.

Dubai’s KHDA issued on Sunday coronavirus protocols for “reopening of private schools in Dubai” which include the following:

Thermal screening at schools’ entrances and temperature checks for each student taking the bus. School buses must operate at half capacity to ensure social distancing.

Teachers and students above the age of six are required to wear face masks at all times. “Students and staff with medical conditions are exempted from wearing a mask with a medical certificate only. Masks can be taken off during eating or during high intensity physical activities.”

Schools should ensure social distancing measures are maintained in common areas. Each classroom should have enough space to accommodate at least 1.5 meters between the desks of students.

Classroom rotations are not allowed. Students should stay in one designated room and teachers rotate between classes.

Each student should be assigned a desk and is not allowed to swap it with someone else. Every student should also bring their own stationary, electronic devices, etc, and no sharing is allowed.

Only one guardian or family member is allowed to enter the school for pick up or drop off.

Schools should “implement a staggered entry and exit procedure to eliminate overcrowding and to maintain 2 meters physical distancing in high traffic areas.”

School staff will be “discouraged from exiting” the facility during the school day, but “if they do for emergency purposes, they are requested not to return to the premises unless they have fully sanitized and changed their clothes upon return,” and their temperatures will be checked again before re-entry.

Each class teacher is responsible to refer any student showing symptoms of COVID-19 to the school nurse for screening.

Common school areas, such as bathrooms and cafeterias, should be cleaned and disinfected every hour or after every time each area has been used. This also applies to frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, etc.

“Water dispensers are not allowed, the school may offer sanitized water bottles.”

Ensure hand sanitizers are distributed across the school premises, away from younger children’s reach. Young children should be assisted by school staff to wash their hands frequently and adequately.

Schools are encouraged to adopt a “paperless” strategy and integrate the use of technology more into daily activities. Electronic devices, such as tablets and computers should be disinfected after every use.

Students and school staff who would be categorized as high risk for coronavirus infection, such as those suffering from chronic conditions, should be offered alternatives to attending classes in school, such as distance learning online, “until further notice.”

All group activities and events, such as trips, camps, performances, tournaments, and the like are suspended “until further notice.”

“Extra-curricular activities are encouraged to be offered digitally.”

“Showers and changing rooms are not permitted.” On the days when students have physical education lessons, “they must come to school in their full PE uniform.”During PE lessons, students and instructors will not be required to wear masks while running or working out, but they must maintain social distancing. Contact sports should not be allowed, and swimming pools are to remain closed until further notice.

If anyone, whether a student, teacher or parent, shows symptoms of coronavirus while on school grounds, they must be immediately isolated, and they are not allowed to return until they undergo a PCR test.

For symptomatic individuals, the protocol is as follows:

For negative PCR result: “If the result is negative and there is a clinical assessment of a probable COVID-19 case, the patient should complete a 14-day quarantine. If the result is negative and there is no clinical assessment for a probable case, the child can resume schooling so long as they are symptom-free.”

For positive PCR result: “If the result is positive, the traced contacts of the patient, including teachers along with the classmates of a student, or colleagues are all considered close contacts (Anyone who spent more than 15 minutes in a proximity of 2 meters with the positive case, from the day of symptoms onset, or the day of the positive PCR test). They should all commence the 14-day quarantine counted PCR from the day of the positive test, or from the day of the onset of symptoms if ascertained by the clinician.”

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