Only one category of students is exempt from in-person learning beyond October 3 — those stuck abroad.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has announced that students who are unable to return to their homes in the UAE can continue opting for distance learning subject to certain conditions.
Nathan Sadler, primary principal of GEMS Wellington Academy — Silicon Oasis, said that KHDA has asked school principals to submit an online application form before September 15 to process these students' requests.
“We have asked all parents in this position to contact the leadership with their requests, for us to fill in the application on their behalf,” he said.
Sadler added that it’s imperative for parents to provide as much detail as possible when submitting their requests.
“We have to give the reason for the student being out of the country, as well as any supporting evidence. Additionally, we have to submit the likely return to face-to-face learning for each student,” he said.
Zubair Ahmad, head of operations at Springdales School Dubai, said the school will continue offering lessons on Microsoft Teams to students who are outside the country.
“We have very few such students, not more than 10 individuals across the entire school,” he said.
In many cases, Ahmad said one parent is still in the UAE, while the rest of the family is stuck elsewhere due to financial or logistical reasons.
“For indefinite circumstances, where there is a job loss and the family has moved, it will be a challenge, as we don’t know when the remote learning option might be stopped. Therefore, we are recommending parents to look at more concrete solutions for students’ well-being ... Abrupt changes will impact their performance,” he said.
Maryssa O’Connor, principal and CEO at GEMS Wellington International School and vice-president of education at GEMS Education, said her school is offering the remote learning provision to ensure there are no gaps in students’ learning.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, schools have developed incredibly creative solutions for remote learning opportunities — and no doubt, they will continue to do so," she said.
"However, as more students return to face-to-face learning, parents should expect that the delivery of online learning may also change to support a smaller number of students and to enable those children in school to benefit from the new regulations,” O’Connor added.
The vast majority of students returned to in-person learning at the start of the academic year. But some opted to continue with distance learning until October 3, when all Dubai schools will resume full in-person learning.
While an exemption has been granted to students who are abroad, some families are requesting the continuation of remote learning on other grounds, as many pupils live with elderly relatives. But schools are still awaiting KHDA’s guidance about these requests.
Deepika Thapar Singh, principal and CEO at Credence High School, said: “It is important for all students to come back to school for face-to-face learning. The updated protocols, set by DHA and KHDA, are being followed diligently. All our staff is vaccinated and health and safety of our students is of utmost importance.”