The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee for COVID-19 pandemic, in coordination with the Department of Education and Knowledge, ADEK, has approved plans to reopen private schools with physical attendance for the new academic year.

This allows parents and students to opt for online learning for the whole first term of the upcoming academic year, subject to prior coordination with the schools, an ADEK press release said on Sunday.

The committee also approved strict health and preventative measures, along with a new compliance policy for all private schools in Abu Dhabi. The policy also stipulates having a no-objection certificate from ADEK before reopening schools.

At the start of reopening, ADEK will coordinate with schools to conduct COVID-19 testing for all teaching staff and students above ages 12.

ADEK has approved the five models for private schools in Abu Dhabi to implement physical attendance, including policies and guidelines to analyse physical capacity.

The models are: Full in-class (face-to-face) learning: with students going to school every day; Partial in-class (face-to-face) learning: students to go to school every day but for half a day; and Alternating days: two days a week for in-class (face-to-face) learning.

Also, Alternating weeks: two weeks for in-class (face-to-face) learning, and two weeks for online learning each month; as well as Hybrid model: in-class (face-to-face) learning for two days, and three days for online learning for the first week, and three days for in-class (face-to-face) learning and two days for online learning for the following week.

Students’ return to the classroom in-person will be staggered. Students starting in KG1/FS2 to Grade 5/Year 6 will return in-person from the first day of school. All other grades/years will return in-person four weeks after school starts.

This will enable schools to monitor and evaluate how students adapt and respond to the measures in place, and plan accordingly for the return of other students.

Starting from next week, an ADEK compliance team will visit all 205 private schools to evaluate their readiness for reopening and compliance with all guidelines, in order to approve the reopening.

At the start of reopening, the ADEK compliance team will conduct regular field visits to all private schools to conduct risk assessments. Non-compliant schools will face warnings, penalties and even school closures if deemed necessary.

A dedicated compliance hotline 800ADEK (800 2335) has been set up for parents and teaching staff to report any complaints and compliance issues. ADEK is set to investigate all complaints registered, said the press release.