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Parents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Respond as UAE Closes Schools in Response to Coronavirus Covid-19
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Parents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Respond as UAE Closes Schools in Response to Coronavirus Covid-19

by Jon WestleyMarch 4, 2020

Parents and schools have responded rapidly to the announced closure of schools by the UAE government in an escalating fight back against the risks to children and families of Coronavirus Covid-19. Below we look at feedback from the school regulators, parents and schools. More on the school closures can be found here.

 

KHDA Respond to Worried parents and Families as Government Escalates Protection for Children …

The KHDA, Dubai’s Schools’ Inspectorate, has assured parents that:

“If students’ safety is deemed to be at risk, we will protect it every way we can.”

Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority is seeking to calm the understandable fears of parents and students across Dubai as it balances the need to protect children and schools with ensuring that the education of children is disrupted as little as possible:

 

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“Let’s create calm, not chaos.

Let’s be responsible, not reckless.

Let’s speak from facts, not fear.

We’re in this together – and we will get through this together.

 

Parents Respond to Coronavirus Covid-19 …

Parents respond to School closures across UAE as UAE government escalates response to Coronavirus Covid-19

Parents have been contacting SchoolsCompared.com and we record below some of their concerns and views following the escalation of moves by the UAE government to protect the nation’s families and children.

“As the father of a year 4 child, our family is very worried and we have so many questions.

How are schools going to ensure that learning is continued when all the schools have closed down?

What contingency plans are in place if the spreading of COVID-19 is not contained within the initial 4 week period when the schools are closed –  what if schools remain closed?

On  separate note, I feel so sorry for families who may not have access to help and have both parents working. Financially this is going to hurt many parents as they will need to stay home.  We need urgent initiatives to ensure that employers financially support their workforce – and the government needs to act now to put these in place.

I am also worried that people that are infected will go to work because they have no financial choice in the matter and will not be able to risk losing their jobs.”

Hamish, Parent, Dubai

” We have two children, a boy who is 13 and a girl who is 16. I have no idea what we are going to do as a family when the schools close – we are both working and cannot afford to stay home. But we are going to have to.

The one positive is that we have a government that is putting children’s safety first. In other countries the approach seems to be to let children get ill because they have stronger tolerance to the virus.”

Deborah. Parent, Dubai

“Our school has been brilliant. We have been contacted already. Now we have to sort out the issue of taking time off work. There is so much to do – but we feel very looked after. Thank goodness we have a government that is acting fast.”

Sara. Parent, Dubai

“As a family we are very worried. It looks like there is chance Coronovirus is going spread very fast. We are thinking through how best to respond. The one thing we are all doing now is washing our hands – and every five minutes!

John, Parent, Abu Dhabi

“It is amazing how this thing is bringing everyone together. I am speaking with parents at our school now that I did not know before. I think altruism in the coming months is going to be so important. We must all get stuck in, keep strong and help each other as much as we can. The school has alerted us to the closure this morning and are working on plans for home schooling. We just have to wait and see how this is all going to work.”

Alanah. Parent. Dubai.

“Apart from the obvious health concerns, I wonder how I should structure the day for my three boys aged 15, 13 and 10.
If I am able to work from home, do I set up a school day?
What does a remote learning day look like?
Does each child stay in their room for each task with a break, and a lunchtime built in?
Any advice on how to structure the day would be immensely helpful.”

Parent who asked to remain anonymous. Abu Dhabi.

“Please could you confirm if GCSE language orals are going ahead next week?
And confirm that weekend revision sessions are cancelled? And whether anything will be provided online?
What happens if schools don’t reopen if the number of cases escalates over the next four weeks?
What is the worst case scenario regarding GCSE and IB exams?
Do exam boards take this into consideration?

We have so many questions ….

Will authorities open up Skype etc to allow live online teaching?
Can you confirm that no teaching staff will be penalised financially due to the authorities’ decision to close schools – TAs and teachers are so worried at our school about this.
How will kids sit their external exams if schools remain closed into exam season?

I’ve got a year 11 and year 13 so this is a big year exam wise for them and we need to get answers.

Parent who asked to remain anonymous. Dubai.

Yes, we are worried. Our eldest is sitting A levels.

We are concerned with quality of virtual learning, finishing the curriculum, missed revision booster sessions – and how we must support them.

He was stressed enough already, without this!

I wonder whether this will be taken into consideration when marking the papers or grade boundaries are adjusted??

Claire. Parent. Dubai.

“Should we be concerned that the KHDA are managing our children’s future by knee jerk reactions?

Is this an overreaction to what may be just a new strain of flu?

Conversely, if they are right, they may prevent it spreading like wildfire throughout the community and saving lives.

Only time will tell.”

Rob. Parent. Dubai.

“Both my children are mid way through their Exams so I am concerned that they can continue to follow the syllabus for each subject ….

I do feel capable of helping them stay on task and commit time to study virtually and independently, but I lack sufficient subject knowledge to answer questions when they are struggling – especially with A Level topics.

One of my sons does have his exams this summer and I will happily host study groups at home in the hope that study returns to normal after Spring Break and that sessions will be put in place for Catch Up ……….

But the future approaches are currently unknown.

I really hope that students finish tomorrow for the four weeks confident that their School is ready to support them and that it won’t be chaos.

Cindy Mitchell, Senior School Parent, Dubai.

We are especially worried as our daughter Charlotte is Year 11. She is panicking about missing all the additional GCSE revision lessons that were planned. We are waiting for the school to provide us with a clear plan and taker her worries away. But we are happy that the government is acting to protect us – and our school has been so helpful thus far.”

Paula. Parent. Dubai.

 

Schools Respond to Closure and Distance Learning …

Schools have responded to SchoolsCompared.com this morning:

Bharat Mansukhani, Regional Managing Director – Middle East, International School Partnership told SchoolsCompared.com:

“The International Schools Partnership (ISP) and our schools around the world have taken the necessary measures to safeguard students, families and staff from the global outbreak of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Following further confirmation from the relevant authorities we will take the necessary measures including closing our schools for students in the UAE between March 8 and April 12. We are communicating with all families and staff and will keep them informed. As always, the safety and well-being of our students, staff and families is our top priority.“

Julian Pederick, Principal, Ranches Primary School, responded:

“In difficult circumstances, a vital decision has been taken – in the interests of children.

What is important now is that schools and parents work together to deliver Distance Learning that supports high quality educational outcomes.

During this time, communication will be key – and all of us will have important responsibilities to uphold.”

Gavin Walford-Wright, Chief People, Marketing and Admissions Officer, advised SchoolsCompared.com:

“The situation is fluid and we are awaiting further direction and information from the regulators which we expect later today.

The Taaleem family of schools will comply with the MoE, KHDA and ADEK mandate and close schools.

Pending confirmation from regulatory authorities:

    • Students will be provided with a full school days’ worth of home learning for their Distance Learning
    • Schools will then be on Spring Break as planned in the School Calendar

Home Learning will consist of a range of age-appropriate interactive and independent activities, including:

  • Subject packs – pre-set work that can be completed independently, submitted online and then marked for feedback
  • Interactive lessons delivered through various age-appropriate platforms (e.g.: SeeSaw for Primary School; Microsoft Teams for Secondary School; Show My Homework for all)
  • Collaborative learning spaces for students to interactive remotely

Students at Taaleem schools are well versed in using this technology – for example, students at the Dubai British group of schools have been using Show My Homework for many years and are highly proficient at accessing and submitting work electronically. The Secondary School students all use Microsoft Teams to collaborate remotely and the Primary Students are all highly adept at accessing and using SeeSaw.

We pride ourselves on being innovative at Taaleem and the PE staff will be providing live ‘wake-up-shake-up’ sessions every day and ongoing active ‘brain-breaks’ for all students to follow.”

Poonam Bhojani, Chief Execeutive Officer, Innoventures Education, told us:

“The UAE Government is taking measures to ensure the safety of students in the UAE.

We support their decision as the health and well-being of our students is always our utmost priority.

Innoventures Education has already been using best-in-class digital learning programmes across its schools to promote independent learning and inquiry. We are now initiating distance learning with our students to provide for continuity of learning in this context.

At the same time, we are doing our best to support parents who may have any concerns and answer questions they might have.”

Mark Ford, Principal, The English College Dubai told SchoolsCompared.com:

‘We fully support and appreciate all efforts from local authorities to keep our school environment and the community safe and healthy. We appreciate the clear and concise guidance that we are continuously receiving and will ensure that all necessary measures are in place.

Plans are in place to adapt to a virtual school day and teaching staff are prepared to deliver online learning to students through Google Classroom.

We will also provide tutorials for our parents so they can see what is being taught in the virtual classroom, and monitor their children’s progress.

We fully understand and sympathise with our parents and staff during this highly unusual situation and will ensure that the transition and continuity of learning is given paramount importance. We will also provide all our parents with tips on how to keep their children engaged during this time and maintain effective and transparent communication.”

Fiona Cottam, Principal, Hartland International School, responded:

“The decision to close all schools is obviously one that we would have all rather avoided.

However, we now need to find a positive way forward in light of last night’s announcement.

I am sure that authorities have not taken this decision lightly and we must have faith that the best interests of the UAE community are at the heart of all steps at this time.

Over the last week at Hartland we have gone from zero to 100 in our preparedness to deliver online and virtual content. In some ways, this crisis has forced us to innovate as a school. We are responding to the developing situation and have accelerated our learning.  We are not quite there yet and would have loved a little extra time to prepare – but we hope to be fully functional in the virtual world and in a position to support parents and students from home in the next few days.  We have learned a lot from the experiences of colleagues in China, Hong Kong and Singapore and are grateful for an amazing on-line community of global practitioners who are all supporting each other in these unique times.”

Simon Crane, Head Master, Brighton College Dubai, said:

“The safety, welfare and health of our pupils, parents and teachers is of the highest importance.  We support the pro-active and foward-thinking approach.

The College has a robust plan for the use of on-line teaching and learning platforms, drawing on the experience of schools in China and Japan where schools have been closed for some time. We are now confident that we have an appropriate (and exciting) educational platform that will enable us to offer a meaningful programme of learning, marking and feedback.  Seasaw, Edmodo and Zoom will be used.

As you will expect, there are likely to be continued tweaks and changes to our approach during the coming weeks, and I am very grateful indeed for the support, understanding and help from parents in managing whatever these next few weeks and months hold.”

Lizzie Robinson, Principal, Jebel Ali School, confirmed:

“While the news broke suddenly last night, we at Jebel Ali School have been planning for such a scenario and thus are ready to support our students, staff and parents during this time. Our focus through our prepared elearning program is to continue to provide the standard of educational excellence that Jebel Ali  students and parents have come to expect.”

GEMS Education tweeted:

“In line with the government-mandated closure of all schools in the UAE,  all GEMS schools will be closed starting Sunday as a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Your Principal will update you further about what measures are being taken by your school. We will continue to update you as further information becomes available. Rest assured, GEMS Education is doing everything it can to ensure minimal disruption to your child’s education.”

A dedicated hotline has been set up to advise schools and parents on 06-7017000 and email at [email protected] for issues that arise during the closure of schools and universities.

This is a rapidly developing story and we will publish more quotes from schools and parents as we receive them.


If you have a ground-breaking story in UAE education, please mail the SchoolsCompared.com News Desk 24/7 at [email protected] 


© SchoolsCompared.com 2020. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com

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