EXPLAINED – All the Big changes in COVID rules announced for Dubai schools and nurseries by the KHDA
Face masks can now come off for outdoor lessons and when walking outside in Dubai schools and nurseries, according to the latest rules change by the Dubai private-schools regulator, the KHDA (Knowledge and Human Development Authority). This is part of a big shake-up in COVID rule for schools, which also includes the relaxing of several other restrictions. Isolation for close contacts of COVID cases who do not show symptoms has also now been scrapped – although if a child tests positive they will still need to isolate for 10 days.
COVID rule changes: Face masks off outside in Dubai schools
Children over the age of 6 are now able to enjoy playtime outside without the need to wear masks for the first time in two years, following a communication sent out to schools and Early Learning Centres on 1 March 2022.
This has been very welcome news for parents who have been concerned about the long-term impact of mask wearing for children. There is some scientific evidence that long-term mask-wearing can impact children’s ability to recognize faces and emotions, as well as their verbal communication. Now that the risks of COVID-19 appear to be lessened due to the successful vaccine roll-out and rise in less-severe variants, this first step towards a mask-free school environment has been applauded by many in the parenting community.
“It’s so wonderful that they don’t have to wear masks outdoors any more,” Francesca Wren, a Dubai-based mother of an eight-year-old at a British curriculum school told SchoolsCompared.com.
“It was so lovely to watch my daughter running around in the school field and playing tag yesterday without having to worry about a mask.”
“It makes such a big difference that they’re able to play and laugh with their friends outside without having to cover their faces. I just wonder how long it will be until they can take the masks off in classrooms too.”
COVID rule changes: No more close contact isolation for asymptomatic students
Another major change in the KHDA school rules is scrapping the need to self-isolate if a child is classed as a close contact of a positive case, as long as they do not display any symptoms.
Until now, the rule was that if a child is classed as the close contact of another child in his or her class who tests positive for COVID-19, they would have to self-isolate for seven days. This led to some families experiencing extended periods of self-isolation and distance learning, as different family members were classed as close contacts, despite often not exhibiting any symptoms whatsoever.
One Dubai mother, Holly, who preferred not share her surname for this article, told SchoolsCompared.com:
“It’s a big relief to hear that close contacts won’t have to self-isolate if they don’t show symptoms anymore.”
“Throughout January our household was quarantined almost the entire month, since our helper tested positive, and then my two children each were classed as close contacts in separate weeks. It made life almost unmanageable for a while.”
All the new school COVID regulations Dubai parents need to know about
In a letter sent to all Early Learning Centre managers and schools, and seen by Schoolscompared.com, Mohammed Darwish, CEO of Permits and Compliance at the KHDA stated that:
- Facemasks are no longer required outdoors. They remain compulsory indoors for all adults and children older than 6 years.
- All close contacts will continue to be identified and close contacts may attend the school or nursery provided they are symptom free. The close contact PCR test every 48 hours in 5 days is NOT APPLIED if symptom free.
- Children or staff who are considered close contacts and show Covid symptoms can only return when they are free of symptoms, even if they have a negative PCR test.
- Contact tracing will still take place and parents will still be informed if there is a positive case in the class, however the class will not need to close
- Children or staff who test positive for Covid must isolate for 10 days.
- Consistent and regular sanitsation procedures must continue to be followed
- Safety standards from relevant Dubai Government authorities (Municipality, DHA, etc) must continue to be followed.
- Physical distancing is recommended.
The rules are very much in line with the more general instructions announced on 25 February 2022 by the Dubai government.
Which COVID rules have changed and which have stayed the same?
Although there have been two major changes to the COVID regulations at Dubai schools, many precautions still remain in place.
|Regulations that have stayed the same||Regulations that have changed|
|If a student experiences any COVID-19 symptoms, he/she has to be isolated and do a formal PCR test||Close Contacts do not have to isolate if they are asymptomatic, this includes household contacts|
|Positive PCR cases will continue to isolate for 10 days||Parents will be informed by phone call or email if their children are a Close Contact of a Positive case within the school|
|Close Contact tracing continues within the school||Parents are advised to monitor their children for any COVID-19 symptoms for 7 days after being identified as a Close Contact|
|The use of masks inside the school building are still mandatory for adults and children Year 2 and above (age 6 and upwards)||If your child is a Close Contact and develops symptoms they must stay at home and do a formal PCR test straight away. They must communicate with the medical team, once the results are received, who will guide you on your child’s return to school|
|Masks are no longer required outside|
The KHDA has shared an info graphic to illustrate the rule changes – but also those rules that are being retained to protect children, schools and families:
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