COVID-19 media briefing: Gradual return of students to classroom learning in UAE

During the UAE Government media briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hazza Al Mansouri, Official Spokesman of the UAE’s Education Sector, announced the gradual return of in-class learning in the UAE over two groups.

The first group will return on 24th January while the second group will return on 31st January.

Dr. Farida Al Hosani, Official Spokesperson of the UAE Health Sector, stressed the importance of adhering to relevant precautionary measures while noting the country’s leadership priorities the community’s health and safety.

During the briefing, Al Hosani said the UAE is a distinguished model of the flexible handling of the pandemic and COVID-19 crisis management. She stressed that the country’s readiness is the outcome of the collaboration and coordination between national authorities and relevant sectors, which are working together as one team to implement the directives of the UAE’s leadership.

The national efforts of all federal and local authorities and private entities are continuing to create a healthy environment for members of the community. Authorities are operating specialist teams with professional staff to ensure the health and safety of citizens, residents, and visitors, she added.

The national efforts of the country’s hospitals related to treating COVID-19 are providing a healthy preventive environment, and all hospitals. Health authorities are fully ready to offer the best healthcare services to the country’s citizens, residents, and visitors, she further added.

Dr. Al Hosani affirmed that the health sector is continuing to achieve collective immunity, by providing vaccines to all eligible segments of the population. She stated that 100 percent of the population has received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose while 93.19 percent are fully vaccinated.

“The UAE has been keen to provide approved vaccines at a very early stage free of charge in all health establishments around the country, to achieve collective immunity and protect people’s health,” she stressed.

“Studies have shown that booster shots significantly reduce infections and complications. We urge individuals over 18 to take booster shots, especially the elderly and those with chronic diseases,” she said. The health crisis has demonstrated that adhering to the precautionary measures is key to protecting the population, along with vaccination campaigns, she added.

She also affirmed the importance of adopting healthy habits and practices to ensure the community’s health and safety, such as wearing face masks, ensuring social distancing, regular sanitisation and undergoing regular testing.

“We advise everyone to be cautious if they experience flu symptoms, most notably respiratory system symptoms that are similar to those of seasonal flu. We also highlight the importance of undergoing PCR testing,” Al Hosani stated.

She again highlighted the importance of undergoing PCR tests, given their accuracy in detecting and limiting infections. Taking the vaccine does not mean one should stop adhering to related preventive measures, and following updated protocols aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic.

Dr. Al Hosani explained that everyone is responsible for protecting the country’s achievements over the past two years. “We stress the importance of adhering to the preventive measures amidst the gradual resumption of activities. Your health is a priority of the UAE’s leadership.”

Al Mansouri explained the updated procedures and directives of the Ministry of Education, in line with developments to the pandemic.

Under this framework, he said the education sector is fully prepared to proactively address emergencies while ensuring the continuity of the education system, by monitoring the situation and current developments.

He highlighted the ongoing efforts to monitor the pandemic, to ensure the safe return to normalcy, maintain public health and protect the health and safety of students, teachers, and administrative staff in educational establishments.

“Under the framework of monitoring the current situation and facilitating the safe resumption of schools, a gradual return to in-class learning has been decided, as the first group will return on 24th January,” Al Mansouri said.

“This first group will include nursery students, first-grade students, 12th-grade students or 13th-grade in the British education system. Students who will undergo international and major examinations. The first group will also comprise higher education establishments’ students,” he added.

The green pass system will be implemented for this group, he said and added that the second group, which will comprise the remaining school levels and grades, will return to schools on 31st January.

The Ministry of Education has also implemented several preventive measures to ensure the smooth return of in-person education, and all students must show a negative PCR test result not older than 96 hours, as well as undergo a PCR test every two weeks, he explained.

Parents must also use the green pass system on the Al Hosn app before entering educational establishments, as well as show a negative PCR test result not older than 96 hours, he stressed. School trips will be suspended until further notice, while sports and cultural activities in schools will continue with the application of relevant precautionary measures.

The remote learning option will be available for parents who want their children to continue education remotely until the situation in the country is re-evaluated, Al Mansouri said. School administrations will contact parents directly and provide them with information on the learning system and the health situation, he added.

He urged parents to undergo PCR tests early to avoid overcrowding the testing facilities. He noted that these guidelines are subject to updates according to the requirements of health authorities and the monitoring of the current health situation.

“During all stages of the crisis, the educational sector’s administrations and employees have proven their efficiency and flexibility in addressing the situation. We thank them for implementing the country’s directives aimed at maintaining public health and safety,” he said.

At the end of the briefing, Al Mansouri highlighted the importance of the community’s responsibility and the key role of its members in protecting the country’s achievements.

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