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UAE weather: Schools brace for adverse weather as emergency rain meeting called
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UPDATE: Some UAE schools may close and shift to remote learning tomorrow Friday 8 March 2024 due to expected adverse weather conditions, according to a UAE government update following an emergency briefing. The decision to close schools will be taken by the respective emergency and crisis management teams in each of the affected emirates.

 

Read more on the latest weather and school closure updates here.

An emergency meeting has been called by the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) about impending severe weather conditions.

 

GEMS_INARTICLE  

In a social media post on Wednesday 6 March 2024, NCEMA stated that it would be holding a media briefing to discuss:

“The expected drop in temperatures and weather fluctuations. Emphasis is placed on adhering to safety measures and preventing the dissemination of rumours.”

Held by NCEMA – which long-term UAE residents will remember used to hold weekly briefing during the COVID-19 pandemic – in conjunction with the Ministry of Interior and The National Centre for Meteorology (NCM), the briefing will take place at 5pm on Thursday 7 March 2024.

NCM is currently predicting a 25% to 90% chance of heavy rain in Dubai on Friday 8th March, with highs of 30 degrees and lows of 21 degrees. The unsettled weather is expected to last into the weekend, with a high chance of moderate rain predicted on both Saturday and Sunday.

With heavy rain forecast across Friday 8th March and the weekend, schools are braced for adverse weather conditions.

Brett Girven, Principal of Arbor School Dubai said:

“Arbor School prepares communications in advance and makes a decision early in the morning regarding whether to close or remain open based on weather conditions.”

Last month Dubai schools were advised to offer distance learning to students on Monday 12 February 2024 and Tuesday 13 February due to warnings of unstable weather.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which regulates Dubai schools, issued an urgent advisory to all schools to be flexible and provide an online learning option, so that families were not required to take to the roads in what turned out to be stormy, unsafe weather conditions.

Safety is always paramount for UAE schools, says Zafar Raja, Group Chief Operating Officer, GEMS Education:

“The safety of our whole school community is always our number one priority and the measure by which we make decisions regarding onsite or remote learning, alongside guidance by our regulators and the Ministry of Education.

“On occasions when the weather is forecast to be potentially disruptive, or indeed dangerous for our students, teachers, and support staff to travel into school, we will consider switching to remote learning.

“Our school leaders ensure timely communication to parents and staff enabling families to make any required adjustments should rain interrupt the normal school day.”

Zafar Raja, Group Chief Operating Officer, GEMS Education

Sarah O’Regan, Principal/CEO GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis agrees:

“We are lucky that our school building is on relatively high ground, so we don’t suffer from flooding onsite, but many of our students and staff travel from areas which are impacted by road congestion during heavy rain. We don’t want to put our community in any situation that may be unsafe trying to reach school, so we take guidance from our transport company about the conditions of the road across the city, alongside authority guidance.

“When heavy rain is forecast, we ensure all windows and doors are secured and bring lighter-weight outdoor items inside to prevent damage by rain or winds. The main work comes afterwards from our cleaning and maintenance teams, to ensure all outdoors areas are cleared of standing water and are clean and ready for use as soon as possible.”

Sarah O’Regan, Principal/CEO GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis

However, rain can also be a chance to inspire children and teach them about climate and the environment, says Ms O’Regan:

“Rainy days can be fantastic impromptu outdoor learning opportunities. In the past, I used the rainfall to delve into cloud formation and rainfall measurement with my students. We did cloud cover comparisons and set up a rain gauge outside and discussed the different types of clouds that bring rain. It was a fun and engaging way to connect the classroom with what they were experiencing outside. These opportune lessons can enhance student engagement and make learning more memorable.”

Arbor School also uses rainy days as an opportunity to enhance learning, says Principal Brett Girven:

“Significant events like Rainy days in Dubai always provide Provocation for teachers to engage with climate and the environment and weather. For our students, rainy days are certainly days of excitement!

Photograph of Brett Girven, Princiapl of the Arbor School in Dubai within a major ecology research hub. Mr Girven brings a rare and considerable research background in Environmental Science to the school. The Top Schools Award for Best School for Environmental Science and Sustainability in the UAE 2024

Pictured: Brett Girven, Principal, The Arbor School Dubai

“At Arbor we already have initiatives like “Wet Wednesdays” and “Muddy Mondays” in primary school – So we don’t wait for the rain to come in order to celebrate getting wet and muddy!

“In the Secondary School, along with ecoliteracy and global impact lessons embedded in the curriculum, rainy days at Arbor School are utilized for online lessons in an uninterrupted manner.”

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About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of SchoolsCompared.com. Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for the busy 24x7 News Desk, our Advisory Boards and Specialist Panels - and Parents United's WHICHPlaydates - a regular meeting place for UAE parents to discuss the issues that matter to them, make friends and network with others. You can often find Tabitha too on Parents United - our Facebook community board, discussing the latest schools and education issues with our parent community in the UAE - and beyond.

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