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He’s back! Stranded Principal of South View School defeats COVID and returns to Dubai

He’s back! Stranded Principal of South View School defeats COVID and returns to Dubai

by Tabitha BardaJanuary 26, 2022

David Flint, Principal of the SchoolsCompared rated outstanding South View School in Dubai, has returned to Dubai to lead his school in person once again, after weeks of being stranded in the UK while battling COVID-19.

The South View School Principal was one of many UAE teachers whose Winter Break travel plans were disrupted after contracting the highly contagious Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa at the end of November 2021.

Mr Flint flew to his native Wales to visit his parents over the Christmas period, but his plans to travel back to the UAE before the start of the new Spring academic term were thrown into turmoil when he tested positive on the fit-to-fly COVID-19 PCR test, which was required by Dubai authorities prior to boarding the plane.

Although Flint was only mildly affected by COVID symptoms, the need to show proof of a negative PCR result meant he was still stranded in the UK when South View School reopened for Spring, and needed to conduct all school business and staff meetings remotely – often in the middle of the night due to the four-hour time difference between the UAE and UK – while his body battled to clear itself of the virus.

“The hardest thing about being away was the feeling of not doing one’s share whilst all colleagues were working very hard to ensure that the school was able to function and do this with heart and kindness,” David Flint told in an exclusive interview.

“There were practical problems as well.  My house is in Wales and the internet connection not always very reliable.  At one point, I decamped to my car and drove up a hill in order to get a signal on my phone to use it as a hotspot for my laptop.  In fairness to the UK mobile system, it worked very well!”

David Flint South View School car

Faced with patchy internet while stranded in Wales, Principal David Flint needed to set up his remote working station via a hotspot in his car on occasion

Ably assisted from afar by his robust and child-centred team meant the school was still able to run smoothly and effectively even in the Principal Flint’s absence. However, having endured almost 11 days away from the school – making do with patchy Wi-Fi and a sleep-depriving routine of daily online staff briefings at 2.30am UK time – Flint could not be more happy to be back on UAE soil and once again leading his team and the children at South View School in-person.


“The first day back was busy but, thanks to an excellent, well-coordinated team, the return was smooth and I was able to assimilate quickly with the school and the new term. The first thing I did was to meet as many colleagues as I could and tour the school.  Establishing key priorities in light of COVID constraints in particular was a primary topic of feedback from the team.

The community reaction was positive and very much business as usual, although it was really humbling to receive messages from children, parents and colleagues.”

David Flint South View School

David Flint dressed up for International Day with a little Mary Poppins

The Omicron COVID variant has caused chaos throughout the UAE’s education sector in the first month of 2022, with all public schools and many private schools forced to switch to distance learning for the first few weeks of the academic term, as well as additional precautionary restrictions being put into place. Many schools have been struggling with staff shortages and have needed to improvise in order to stay open, with art teachers pitching in as temporary language teachers, and even qualified parents stepping up to fill-in when necessary, as was reported to be the case at Dubai College.

Nevertheless, despite the challenges, South View School is now largely back in-person, and the community has welcomed back Principal David Flint with great relief.

“The school is running well under the circumstances, although there have been a number of spikes in infections that have results in classes and, in two cases, year groups having to revert to distance learning.

Those notwithstanding, the school is predominantly back to face to face and aims to remain in this state.

We are hopeful that the situation will ease in February and we will once again be able to offer a raft of activities, trips and fixtures that not only improve the learning experiences for children but also fuel the South View School community spirit and esprit de corps for all our members.”

As a result of his experience, Flint says he has cancelled his February half-term visit to the UK,  and has also revised the dates for his Spring visit.

“Further awareness of regular sanitizing, and mask changing is something I also find myself doing, although working with the situation, rather than being in fear of it, is a clear priority and chosen behaviour for me.”

In tough times people’s true colours emerge, and in Flint’s experience this has revealed a rainbow of teamwork, commitment and resilience from his staff at South View School, as well as the wider South View community. As Flint says:

“I have not so much learned but more had a reality reinforced that I am privileged to work with an outstanding group of people on all fronts who are completely committed to the children they teach as well as each other.

Omicron Covid-19 has caused chaos across education worldwide as the new highly infectious variant means teachers are left isolating.

Read our original story here. 

Read our independent review for parents of South View School Dubai.

Visit the official South View School Dubai web site.

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About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of 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's The School's Report - the global weekly round up of what matters in education for parents which is published every Friday, reviewing schools across the UAE - and features on issues that really matter. You can often find Tabitha 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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