Gulf Business: GEMS schools are preparing to reopen their school campuses across the UAE in September at the beginning of the new academic year, its group chief officer Dino Varkey confirmed on Wednesday.
“We spend a lot of time working with our regulators and the authorities who have been a tremendous source of support as we look to try and bring back our schools in September, so that we’re ready to welcome our parents and students who, through all of this crisis, have demonstrated an incredible resilience,” said Varkey.
Dubai’s school regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), recently issued a 100-plus set of health and safety guidelines for the re-opening of private schools across Dubai in September this year.
While the KHDA hasn’t specifically given the go-ahead for schools to reopen in Dubai, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has confirmed that schools in Abu Dhabi can resume on-campus learning for the upcoming new academic year.
Varkey added that the GEMS schools will have protocols including social distancing, thermal screening, travel declarations and other measures which are “visible and tangible” to encourage staff and students to feel confident about returning to their campuses.
In June, GEMS said that its safety measures would cover areas such as food handling, deep cleaning, school transportation and staff accommodation.
Also, its schools would undergo a regular deep cleaning and disinfection using hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectants, following which, a special antimicrobial product will be applied to provide surface protection for up to four weeks.
A nationwide e-learning programme had been rolled out across all universities and schools in the UAE in March as they closed their campuses as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“While we’ve seen the possibility of technology in education through this period what we’ve also realised is that nothing replaces the community that is a school,” said Varkey while making a case for schools to reopen.
“We’re able to look and see what best-in-class practice around reopening of schools look like in various countries around the world, [and] we’re able to incorporate those best practices.”
In April, GEMS Education announced that it would offer tuition fee cuts ranging from 20-50 per cent for families impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.