The purpose of this page is to provide you with direct access to the latest updates to Private School Reopening Policies and Guidelines.
14 January 2021
The following policy updates to the Private School Reopening Policies and Guidelines have been issued for the academic term commencing on 3 January 2021.
Resumption of Operations
Latest Updates: 14 January 2021
Timeline for Resuming Operations
All private schools in Abu Dhabi shall prepare to resume operations as per their published Academic Calendar for 2020/21.
Criteria for Reopening Schools
Schools shall establish a COVID-19 Taskforce composed of the Response Team (see Setting Up a Response Team with Defined Roles in the School under Incident Management and Emergency Readiness) as well as relevant departments within the school (student affairs, human resources, academic affairs, community outreach, etc.).
The school’s COVID-19 Taskforce shall ensure the following is completed prior to reopening (detailed requirements are available in the relevant sections below):
- Conduct a general Risk Assessment for reopening which is specific to the school (see Appendix 1: General Risk Assessment).
- Conduct individual Risk Assessments for all Students of Determination (see Appendix 2: PoD Risk Assessment).
- Ensure that all school and staff licenses and insurances are valid and up to date.
- Cleaning and disinfection of the premises.
- Map circulation of transition areas.
- Placement of signs, demarcations, off-limit areas.
- Installation of safety equipment and ensuring stockage of materials.
- Preparation of all spaces according to the relevant protocols.
- [updated on 14 January 2021]
Verify that all staff and students (who require testing) have undergone COVID-19 Testing.
Schools are not required to submit their reopening plans to ADEK. However, ADEK will verify adherence to the reopening requirements through a compliance process.
Criteria for Reclosing Schools
Last Updated on 14 January 2021
Whole section has been updated, please see the updates below.
Partial/Full Shift to Distance Learning (DL)
In the case of a single positive case, all contacts must self-isolate for 10 days, possibly including members of their household. In the case of two or more positive cases, the school may be partially or fully shifted to distance learning for a minimum of 10 days. ADEK must be notified immediately as per the protocol in the ‘Guide for Private Schools Covid-19 Response Teams’ shared with School Principals.
Completion of the full duration of the shift to DL.
Disinfection of the physical areas where exposure was identified.
A school may reopen following closure upon clearance by the ADEK Health & Safety Compliance and COVID-19 Incident Management Team.
The above criteria may be subject to change based on the latest requirements announced by the relevant health authorities.
Detailed requirements are available in the ‘Guide for Private Schools Covid-19 Response Teams’.
Requirements for Entry
Latest Updates: 14 January 2021
Schools shall identify and communicate criteria for authorized entry to the school premises, with the objective of limiting entry to essential persons only.
Schools shall maintain rigorous logs of all persons accessing the school premises.
Authorized persons must meet the health requirements for entry and follow the relevant entry/exit protocol.
Authorized persons include:
- Enrolled Students
- School staff
- Contract staff (security guards, janitorial staff, canteen staff, and other 3rd party providers working onsite)
- Other authorized persons (external providers and authorities, i.e. heavy item delivery personnel, construction workers, etc.)
- [Updated on 14 January 2021]
Parents with a negative PCR test result (valid 96 hours) or “emergency use” status on their AlHosn application.
- School-aged children of staff (if authorized to be present that day for onsite childcare)
Students of Determination should be considered on an equitable basis as all other students. A Risk Assessment should be conducted where necessary and the outcomes discussed with parents. Where the support of a third party is required for any Student of Determination, exemptions should be made as appropriate to allow their entry onto the school premises with the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as is determined in the Risk Assessment.
Health Requirements for Entry
All authorized persons may enter the school premises as long as long as they do not have the following COVID-19 related symptoms:
- Fever (37.5 C or above)
- Body ache
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Loss of smell or taste
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
Staff and students with chronic health conditions may now physically return to school upon presentation of the following documents:
- A physician’s letter stating that the staff or student is fit to physically attend school.
- A signed risk undertaking form by the staff or student’s legal guardian acknowledging that they understand the risk associated with physically returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic and taking full responsibility for their decision. Schools will provide staff and students with the form.
Health requirements are subject to change to reflect the latest information issued by health authorities.
Additional Entry Requirements for Contract Staff
Contract staff must also meet all the health requirements and conditions for schools in addition to those relating to their sector as determined by the relevant authorities.
Prior to entry, contractors must sign a declaration of understanding that any suspected cases amongst staff members will be reported to the school.
Contract staff who are suspected cases are not permitted to enter school premises, and for a confirmed case, clearance of all team members identified through contact tracing is required prior to their entry.
Daily logs of contract staff attendance and temperature scans must be kept.
Any subcontract staff must pre-approved by the school’s facilities manager (with 48 hours notice).
Any further requirements will be announced at a later date in conjunction with the relevant authorities.
Mandatory COVID-19 Test
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
PCR Testing will be required for all staff and students aged 12 and above who are physically returning to school.
Students of Determination are exempt.
Testing guidelines for students and staff are subject to change based on the latest guidelines from health authorities.
All staff, parents, and students with devices are recommended to download the AlHOSN Application to facilitate contact tracing in case of an incident.
Admissions, Registration, Communication, and Orientation
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
School tours may resume for parents of new and prospective students, as per the Requirements for Entry.
Schools shall use remote means (email, telephone, online meetings, etc.) whenever possible for all administrative matters (admissions, registration, communication, and payment), as well as ensuring timely responses to queries.
Textbook and uniforms should be packaged, sanitized, and distributed in an orderly manner to avoid crowding.
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
Schools shall enforce adherence to safety measures (social distancing, avoiding overcrowding) in areas within the school premises that are frequented by parents (i.e. waiting/reception areas, administrative offices).
A dedicated contact number and/or email for parents to report COVID-19 emergencies should be made available.
Student Medical Records
Schools shall maintain updated medical records as per Policy 35 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
Student medical records must be kept confidential and only shared with relevant parties as outlined in Policy 35 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
Guidelines for Daily Health Screening Prior to Leaving Home
Schools shall communicate that parents are strongly advised to check their children’s temperatures and screen for symptoms before leaving home for school. Children who exhibit symptoms or who are feeling generally unwell are required to stay home from school as per the health declaration form signed by parents and are urged to see a SEHA Primary Healthcare Doctor for assessment and possible Covid-19 testing if required.
Staff are strongly advised to check their own temperature and screen for symptoms before leaving the house. Staff who exhibit symptoms or who are feeling generally unwell are required to stay home from school and are urged to see a SEHA Primary Healthcare Doctor for assessment and possible Covid-19 testing if required.
Latest Updates: 14 January 2021
Guidance on School Access Points
An access point is a point of access into or out of the school premises, such as a main gate, parking entrance, etc.
All access points should be designated as either an entry or an exit to privilege one-way directionality. If unfeasible, a priority direction should be designated at specific times of the day (i.e. incoming direction on arrival; outgoing direction on departure – with, for example, an arrow sign to indicate the priority direction).
To maximize flow, schools are advised to use as many access points as possible, preferably by designating access points to different groups according to proximity to their classroom to minimize mixing. For example, if access point A is closer to the Cycle 1 areas and access point B is closer to the Cycle 2 areas, designate access point A for only Cycle 1 students and access point B for only Cycle 2 students.
Access points should be manned by trained security personnel to oversee flow and enforce the preventive measures (social distancing, PPE, and hygiene, (see Framework for Policies and Guidelines).
Non-contact temperature screening must be held for each person when entering the school or taking the bus.To maximize flow, schools are advised to install thermal scanners in an indoor area at the main access points. Infrared thermometers are not suitable for access points with heavy circulation but may be used for less frequented access points. Persons with temperatures of 37.5 C or higher should be screened again with a handheld infrared thermometer and transferred to the isolation area upon confirmation of fever for further follow up as per the incident management protocol (see Guidance on Protocols for Managing a COVID-19 Related Incident at School under Incident Management and Emergency Readiness.)
Queuing areas at all access points must be demarcated with standing intervals 1.5 m apart.
Entry/exit should be staggered, with limited crossover between students arriving by private transportation and bus-riders.
[updated on 14 January 2021]
Parents of younger children can accompany their child beyond the gates to the classrooms during the first few days only if the parents show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test (96 hours validity). This discretion should be used sparingly and only in cases where the child is showing signs that he/she is unable to stay in school without the parent. Parents should observe all safety measures that are imposed on all staff.Hand sanitizing gel dispensers should be installed (preferably contactless) at every access point for obligatory use by every person entering the premises.
An isolation area close to the main access point should be installed for students who did not pass screening to wait to be picked up by their parent/guardian. This isolation area is simply a closed waiting area and is different from the quarantine room. The only requirement is that facemasks and sanitizers be available. It is also recommended to have some form of touchless distraction (i.e. a TV or screen) or toys and books that can be easily disinfected. The isolation area and all objects within should be cleaned and disinfected after use.
Arrival and departure times for each group, alongside the protocol for entering and exiting shall be clearly communicated to parents.
Students may be accompanied by a maximum of 1 parent or guardian during drop off or pick up. Guardians must wear masks at all times and may accompany the student until the access point (but not enter the premises). Accompanying guardians may remain in the waiting area for a maximum of 10 minutes. It is recommended that accompanying guardians be in good general health (to protect themselves from exposure).
Fingerprint check-in devices for staff should not be used at this time, and alternative contactless methods such as remote ID verification is recommended.
Students of Determination may have designated arrival and departure points and measures in place to accommodate specific needs. These should be developed and discussed through the Risk Assessment and development of an Individual Educational Plan (IEP).
Students of Determination and their parents should be made aware of the arrival and departure points and the process entailed in arrival and departure. This may need to be communicated in a differentiated manner according to age, ability, and behavioral needs.
Students of Determination and their parents should be provided with all information on school timings as per school communications. Where necessary timings may need to be adapted slightly by 5-10 minutes to provide a quieter, calmer arrival and departure dependent upon need. This should be clearly communicated to parents.
Entering the School
All authorized persons must enter one at a time, spaced 1.5m apart (as per the floor markings).
All authorized persons must enter wearing the appropriate PPE. Schools should stock extra PPE to accommodate authorized persons who do not have the required PPE for entry.
The requirement for PPE for Students of Determination and those working with them should be evaluated through the Risk Assessment process.
Exiting the School
Exiting priority should be given to bus-riders in order to empty the school as much as possible.
Exit times for bus-riders should be staggered to reconfigure bus groups with class groups (see Student Grouping).
Students leaving with private transportation should be picked up after buses have left to avoid overlapping (and crowding).
Adult guardians waiting to pick-up children should maintain a 1.5m social distance, wear masks, and should wait in their vehicles (if applicable) until the designated pick up time.
Waiting areas at all access points must be properly designated (with 1.5m social distancing demarcations).
School staff are discouraged from exiting the school premises during school hours.
Entry/Exit Protocol for Other Authorized Persons
Other authorized persons may include external providers and authorities (i.e. heavy item delivery personnel, construction workers, etc.).
Other authorized persons may only enter upon meeting the health requirements for entry (see Health Requirements for Entry under Requirements for Entry).
Other authorized persons must wear appropriate PPE at all times while on school premises.
Schools shall ensure that the activity is supervised (with distance measures in place) and conducted after school hours. If an emergency requires the intervention during school hours, school shall ensure that neither employees nor students are present in the vicinity.
Appropriate cleaning and disinfection must be carried out following the completion of the activity.
Where the support of a third party is required for any Student of Determination, exemptions should be made as appropriate to allow their entry onto the school premises with the appropriate PPE as is determined in the student’s individual Risk Assessment.
Latest Updates: 14 January 2021
Transition areas including all spaces between a starting and end point (i.e. hallways, corridors, waiting areas, entries/exits, etc.).
Schools shall carry out an inspection of their premises and plan a circulation map of the campus.
Schools shall ensure the following when planning their circulation map:
- One-way circulation is to be privileged and signaled through floor/wall markings. Where one-way circulation is not possible, two-way paths should be clearly marked to minimize crossovers.
- Adopt easy-to-understand signage (i.e. signs, arrows, color signals [red/green for stop/go], etc.).
- Identify bottleneck and waiting areas (staircase, elevator, entry to classroom, entry to bathrooms, entry into narrower hallways, etc.) where crowding is likely and create standing demarcations 1.5 m apart.
- Indicate the maximum number of people who can use elevators simultaneously, and use floor stickers to maintain social distancing during use (1.5m).
Organize timings for breaks to limit crossover between classes and to minimize congestion in hallways and other circulation zones.
Keep classroom doors open when possible (i.e. unless a fire hazard) to increase entry/exit flow and avoid touching of door handle/knob, etc.
Supervise student group transitions and ensure social distances.
Provide clear guidance to Students of Determination, differentiated as appropriate, to ensure the safe movement of themselves and others around the school site. Adaptations to the protocol may be required to meet any specific needs of the individual; however, these should not result in increased risk to themselves or others.
Schools shall set up classrooms according to the following standards:
- A hand-gel dispenser (preferably contactless) should be installed at the entrance to the classroom, and students and teachers should sanitize their hands when entering and leaving the class if handwashing is not possible.
- A teaching area should be set up at the front of the classroom, 1.5m apart from student workstations. A box of sanitizing wipes should be placed on every teacher’s desk (and regularly stocked).
- Workstations should be arranged so that students are positioned 1.5m apart, chair to chair and the same workstation should be used by the same student each day.
- Shared tables must be demarcated so that it is clear where students should be seated.
- All non-essential furniture should be removed to maximize available space and reduce contact area.
- All cupboards/bookshelves holding shared supplies should be clearly marked as off-limits.
- The installation of hooks on the side of each workstation is recommended to hang personal belongings and avoid floor clutter.
- Lockers are not recommended but may be used for older students, under the condition that social distances can be maintained.
- Where possible, indicate recommended circulation paths within the class (privilege one-way directionality).
- Clean and disinfect regularly between student groups.
- If the weather allows and the classroom has windows, ventilate whenever possible.
[updated on 14 January 2021]
The maximum number of students per class is 30, with social distancing at 1.5m and mandatory masks for Grade 1 and above. For KG, the maximum number of students per class is 25 as per Policy 44 and 66 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15, with social distancing.
Bubbles for younger students remain at a maximum of 10 students (see section titled Bubbles under Student Grouping for more details).
Any larger converted space (not a regular classroom, i.e. gym, canteen, etc.) may only be used by more than one class/bubble under the following conditions:
- Each group has a separate access point.
- A solid, non-transparent physical barrier of at least 1.2m in height is installed between groups.
- Students are placed at least 2m from the barrier (so there is a space of 4m, chair to chair, between any two students in different groups).
- Spaces may only be shared if an appropriate learning environment can be ensured for each student, free of any noise and/or other disturbance/interference.
It is highly advised that students remain in the classroom, in designated seats throughout the day (except for breaks), and that teachers rotate in and out. However, this may not be feasible if students need to share facilities (i.e. labs, etc.), in which case only one class should be given access to that space at a time, with cleaning and disinfection between groups of students. Larger spaces may hold multiple groups simultaneously but can only do so with strict separation between groups.
Schools are recommended to serve lunch in the classrooms.
In order to accommodate Students of Determination, who may require additional support and guidance to access their learning, schools should consider the space available in classrooms to provide this, compliant with social distancing guidelines. Schools may want to consider how students are grouped and how additional space can be utilized to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines.
Schools shall develop strict rules concerning restroom usage.
A maximum number of students should be authorized at any given time to ensure that social distancing is maintained. This number should be clearly indicated on each restroom door.
Restrooms are congested spaces and thus schools are highly advised to place demarcations indicating where to stand while queuing (preferably outside), circulation paths, available handwashing basins (to maintain social distancing).
Simple signage and posters should be posted to remind users of hygiene protocols.
Use of restrooms must be appropriately supervised for younger students.
Students shall take regular supervised breaks (preferably outdoors) but break times should be staggered to avoid mixing of different classes (especially age groups).
If a recreation space is large enough to host multiple groups, this may be done under the strict supervised separation of these groups.
Playground equipment (i.e. slides, swings, etc.) are to remain off-limits until further notice
While break is a time for independent and self-directed play, KG and early Cycle 1 students looking for guidance may be encouraged to play physical games that promote distancing (i.e. “Simon Says,” jump rope, hula hoops, etc.). However, social distancing should not be excessively enforced to the point of being emotionally harmful to the younger students. Light interaction outdoors while playing is permitted for short periods, and handwashing before and after break is mandatory.
Hand sanitizing gel dispensers (preferably contactless) and sanitizing wipes should be made available in the vicinity.
Students of Determination must be appropriately monitored and supervised to ensure appropriate physical distancing whilst outside to ensure the safety of themselves and others.
Adaptations to the agreed protocol for other students may be implemented to reduce risks to themselves and others and if appropriate, to the resources are available. Students of Determination should have equitable access to play areas.
Schools are recommended to close libraries and make library resources available online where possible. If a library is to remain closed, its conversion into an additional classroom space is recommended, where possible.
Schools shall ensure the following if they choose to keep the library open:
- Hand gel dispensers (preferably contactless) should be made available throughout the library premises and their use encouraged before and after handling a resource.
- Library staff should wear gloves in addition to masks and sanitize their hands (over gloves) regularly before and after handling a resource.
- Sanitizing wipes should be available for student use with clear directions on appropriate usage (i.e. to wipe down surfaces but not books, etc.).
- Libraries may remain open as long as access is controlled and supervised. Access may be given to one class at a time (with cleaning and disinfection in between) and supervised by the teacher/teaching assistant assigned to that class.
- Books made of fabric or other hard-to-clean materials should be removed from circulation, and where possible, covers laminated for easy cleaning and disinfection.
- A clearly marked receptable (with a cover or with a small opening to discourage reuse) for used library resources should be made available. A separate drop-ff box for used resources can also be installed at the entrance of the library.
- Library books and other resources should be disinfected following use before being made available for circulation again.
- A log should be maintained to keep track of library access (entry/exit of all persons).
All students are highly encouraged to participate in sports to maintain their health and wellbeing. However, the regular physical education program at school is currently suspended until further notice and physical education teachers should provide distance learning options for students to stay fit.
[updated on 14 January 2021]
Schools may hold light organized athletic activities outdoors during times usually allotted for physical education, ensuring that masks are worn (Grade 1 and above) and social distancing (1.5m) is practiced.
Sports facilities may be converted as extra classroom space, if appropriate.
All students are highly encouraged to participate in cultural activities to channel their creativity and maintain their wellbeing.
Cultural activities that are part of the curriculum such as the arts may also take place under the condition that social distancing is implemented, and shared material is minimized and/or disinfected before and after use (i.e. paintbrushes, pottery wheels, etc.).
Musical instruments that can be easily disinfected after use may be used (ie. percussion, strings). However, wind and brass instruments may not be shared, so students can bring their own or one must be assigned exclusively to that student after proper disinfection (see National Association for Music Education recommendations: https://nafme.org/covid-19-instrument-cleaning-guidelines/).
Shared Areas for Staff
Staff shall maintain the following social distances at all times:
- 1.5m with students
- 2m with other teachers/staff
In shared staff-only spaces and workstations, demarcations can be placed at 2 m intervals, and use of the spaces should be staggered to minimize interaction
It is recommended that staff workstations be fitted with transparent desk partitions to allow for added security when masks are removed for lunch.
Staff meetings and trainings should be held online whenever possible.
Coffee machines and water dispensers may be used in staff rooms as long as disposable or personal cups are used and all precautionary measures have been followed (2m social distancing, washing/disinfecting hands before and after using the machine). A hand sanitizer should be made available near the machine/dispenser as well as a poster reminding users of the precautionary measures.
Prayer rooms shall remain closed until further notice. Staff may use their own personal prayer mats in any area within the school to pray. Sharing of prayer mats is not allowed.
Handwashing and Sanitization Protocol and Supervision
All schools shall set up handwashing or hand sanitization stations in key locations around the school, such as at access points, playgrounds, entrances of all school buildings and classrooms, at the entrance of the cafeteria, in the school kitchen/canteen, etc.
Each handwashing station must be equipped with liquid soap, sanitizing wipes, disposable paper towels, and posters with effective handwashing and drying instructions.
Air dryers should be not be used (unplug or mark off-limits) due to their ability to circulate air in a concentrated space and spread germs.
Schools shall clearly instruct students and staff to dry their hands properly after handwashing as moist hands may breed germs.
Each hand sanitization station must be equipped with 60%-80% alcohol-based hand sanitization gel.
Handwashing stations (e.g. in bathrooms, etc.) must have markings on the floor to implement a 1.5m distance between each student/staff member who is using the facility.
Schools shall encourage students to wash their hands for 20 seconds with soap:
- When hands are visibly soiled
- Before eating
- After using the toilet
- After touching high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, etc.
- After coughing or sneezing
If handwashing is not possible, students may sanitize their hands using hand gels (for 20 seconds) and wash their hands as soon as they have access to a handwashing facility.
Young children (KG and early Cycle 1) must be supervised when washing hands and also when using hand gels.
Students should use a tissue or paper towel when coughing and sneezing, and promptly dispose of it in a covered bin and wash their hands immediately with soap and water for 20 seconds (or sanitize their hands with gel if a washing station is not nearby).
If a tissue or paper towel is not available, students should sneeze or cough into their elbows, and sanitize their hands if possible.
Students of Determination should be provided with appropriate guidance on hygiene management and supervised to ensure compliance with any guidance. Where the needs of the child prevent them from achieving this independently, appropriate support may be given provided the risk to the student and member of staff is mitigated. Personal protective measures for members of staff supporting the hygiene management of Students of Determination must be considered.
Personal Belongings and Shared Supplies
To reduce the risk of contamination and carrying viruses, staff and students’ personal belongings must be reduced to a minimum.
School supplies may be used when the possibility of sharing is low (i.e. scissors, glue, rulers, lab equipment), given that they are sanitized after individual use.
For classrooms of younger students, a receptable (with lid or small opening to prevent access by students) should be set up for any items that have been exposed to/come into contact with biological fluids (saliva, mucous secretions) for cleaning and sanitization after class and prior to reuse.
Non-essential furniture, equipment, and resources should be removed or demarcated as off-limits, and those that are made available should be easy to clean and disinfect (ie. non-fabric materials and surfaces).
Each student should be provided with a designated stationery kit or should be asked to bring their own stationery kit that they will keep at school if storage is possible (pens, pencils, markers, scissors, etc.). Otherwise, these should be brought daily. Stationery kits are for exclusive use and should not be shared.
Efforts should be made to reduce, where possible, the transfer of paper from home and to home by assigning class work using worksheets or assigning work online.
In case Students of Determination have special equipment and/or emotional support material, it must be adequately cleaned and disinfected, and never be shared with other children.
For older students who are allowed personal digital devices as per the school’s rules, ensure cleaning with sanitizing wipes regularly, and prohibit sharing with other students.
The installation of small hooks on all workstations is recommended to hang personal belongings and avoid having encumbrances on the floor.
Guidance regarding the personal belongings of staff should be considered for those working with Students of Determination and evaluated in the Risk Assessment process.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Masks are obligatory for anyone entering the school premises. Exceptions include:
- Students in KG.
- For teachers of younger students as well as Students of Determination that have hearing impairments, transparent masks are recommended.
- For all other students and staff, masks may only be removed during lunch, provided strict social distancing is maintained. Masks must be worn at all other times.
- Face shields should be worn by students and staff with medical conditions for which mask-wearing is not recommended (supported by a medical certificate).
Any further exceptions to the above list will be announced at a later time in conjunction with relevant authorities.
A home-made cloth mask or medical mask may be used.
Students and staff are required to bring two masks per day: one for use in the morning, and a new one to be used after lunch. Masks must be disposed of (one person at a time) in bins designated for medical waste. In the case of cloth masks, precaution must be taken to ensure that the used mask is stored properly in student bags and cleaned on a daily basis.
Schools shall maintain a supply of masks for students who may not have them or have misplaced or damaged their masks. These should be readily available at the entrances and exits of the school, and in classrooms if needed.
Due to the increased proximity of some staff working with Students of Determination, it is the school’s responsibility to ensure staff working with Students of Determination are provided with the appropriate PPE as per the Risk Assessment conducted.
Schools shall ensure that students are wearing masks correctly. Schools shall also provide training to students on proper hand hygiene and mask-wearing.
Gloves are not recommended but may be worn. Staff and students should be made aware that gloves do not prevent infection and that frequent handwashing is preferable.
Students should be encouraged to always carry a sanitizer with 60%-80% alcohol in their pockets/bags to sanitize their hands frequently.
In some cases, additional personal protective equipment is required to be worn by staff (face masks, face shields, gloves, and/or single-use full sleeved aprons). These include:
- Staff responsible for temperature screening.
- The school nurse/other trained medical professional.
- Cafeteria and kitchen staff.
- Janitorial staff responsible for sanitization and disinfection.
All students and staff must maintain a distance of 1.5m from each other at all times.
For younger students who may have difficulty in following social distancing instructions, schools may consider minimizing exposure and contact by grouping students into “bubbles” (see section for Bubbles under Student Grouping) and following proper hand hygiene. Staff may need to be in closer proximity to them as they work (i.e. if a student is hurt, needs assistance tying shoelaces, etc.).
For Students of Determination who require physical contact or support, the carer must ensure that their hands are sanitized before they come into contact with the student to support their needs.
Where a school decides it has the capacity to allow the return of a Student of Determination who requires a high level of support, and it is in the child’s best interests, it must ensure that this does not increase the risk for the child or other members of the school community.
Where a student requires physical contact to enable access to the school, for example due to a physical need or mobility issue, a comprehensive Risk Assessment must demonstrate how the needs of the child are to be managed. A highly personalised IEP should be developed and this, along with the Risk Assessment, should be reviewed on a daily/weekly basis as appropriate.
Care must be exercised in all other activities that may bring students in close contact with each other.
Cleaning, Disinfection, & Sanitization
Latest Updates: 14 January 2021
Cleaning of School Buildings and Furniture
Schools must carry out the general cleaning and disinfection of the premises every 24 hours. This includes cleaning and disinfecting floors, vacuuming, spot cleaning, dusting horizontal surfaces such as furniture, classroom equipment etc., and taking out the trash.
Surfaces must undergo cleaning with soap/detergent and water to remove organic matter and debris, followed by disinfection (germ elimination) with a disinfectant such as those described in the (See section for Cleaning Techniques below).
60%-80%alcohol-based sanitizing gels and wipes may be used by students and staff for sanitization (germ reduction) of hands and workstations.
Loose carpets and rugs should be removed and stowed away until the pandemic is over.
High-contact surfaces touched by many different people, such as light switches, handrails, doorknobs, faucets, toilet buttons, toilet seats, countertops, etc., must be cleaned and disinfected every hour.
Toilets must be cleaned and sprayed with disinfectant solution every hour.
Waste bins in classrooms and toilets must be emptied before they are full, and at a minimum of once per day.
Cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection management for additional resources as necessary for Students of Determination should consider guidance outlined in the points above.
Cleaning should progress from the least soiled (cleanest) to the most soiled (dirtiest) areas, and from the higher to lower levels so that debris may fall on the floor and is cleaned last in a systematic manner to avoid missing any areas.
Schools shall use fresh cloths at the start of each cleaning session (e.g., routine daily cleaning before the beginning of the school day).
For areas considered to be at high risk of COVID-19 virus contamination such as the school clinic or sites regularly used by a confirmed COVID-19 patient (e.g. desk, floor etc.), schools shall use separate cleaning equipment and cloth.
Detergent or disinfectant solutions become contaminated during cleaning and progressively less effective if the organic load is too high; therefore, the continued use of the same solution may transfer the microorganisms to each subsequent surface. Thus, detergent and/or disinfectant solutions must be discarded after each use in areas when cleaning sites used by suspected/confirmed patients with COVID-19.
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
Fresh disinfectant solution should be prepared daily or for each cleaning shift. Only disinfectants approved by the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council (QCC), Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA), or any other government entity should be used.
Schools shall follow these guidelines when cleaning a site used by a COVID-19 affected student or member of staff:
- Close off the affected areas that were used by the patient.
- Open doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
- It is advised to wait 24 hours before cleaning or disinfecting the area.
- Ensure that the cleaning staff is wearing full PPE (i.e. mask, face shield, gloves and a long sleeved single-use apron).
- Clean and disinfect the area using a disinfectant solution and fresh cloth. Discard or wash the cloth with detergent and dry it before re-use.
Cleaning of Shared Equipment
Sharing of IT equipment, especially that which is frequently touched by students (such as computer keyboards, mouse devices and mobile computing devices, etc.) is not recommended. However, if required, all surfaces should be sanitized after individual use.
Schools are encouraged to reduce the risk of transmission and cross-contamination due to shared resources by:
- Locking away items that are difficult to clean or disinfect, such as some toys, educational manipulatives, etc.
- For younger students, supplies such as worksheets, notebooks, and stationery should be stored separately in individually labelled containers.
- Ensuring that materials such as toys, books, manipulatives, models etc. are in adequate supply to reduce sharing.
- Limiting the use of supplies and equipment by one group of children at a time and sanitizing between use.
Schools should maintain good indoor ventilation. For better ventilation, schools should keep the windows (if the weather allows) and doors of classrooms open, using exhaust fans/ventilation units to circulate fresh air.
If the air-conditioning system is used, schools should ensure there is sufficient fresh air supply and the dust-filters are cleaned and sanitized regularly.
Closed spaces such as classrooms, etc. should be ventilated with fresh air for at least 10 minutes before students arrive at school, during recreation/recess, at lunch time, and after school.
Lunch/Safe Food Preparation
Schools should encourage parents to send individual packed lunches with students.
Students should not share food with others.
The use of the canteen by different groups is not recommended unless isolation of groups and cleaning/disinfection between cycles can be guaranteed. Lunch should be served in the classroom where possible.
Vending machines for individually pre-packed food and beverages are allowed provided they meet sector requirements for safe use.
Canteens may not cook food on the school premises but may serve individual pre-packed meals. Schools shall:
- Comply with all requirements of personal hygiene, general cleanliness, temperature controls, food packaging and display, food transportation and storage, and food waste management set out under the school canteen standards established by the Abu Dhabi Agriculture & Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA).
- Ensure that employees observe social distancing, hand hygiene, and wear face shields, gloves, and face masks while preparing meal distribution.
- Ensure functioning of handwashing stations in the kitchen for frequent handwashing facilities.
Students should be encouraged to bring a full bottle of water every day. For additional drinking water requirements, water dispensers are allowed for student use as long as these are sanitized regularly and manned by a staff member during busy break times to ensure the least possible risk to students when filling their water bottles or using the plastic cups. This staff member will make sure that the students are wearing their mask and have sanitized their hands prior to touching the dispenser while ensuring strict compliance with precautionary measures.
Drinking fountains are strictly prohibited.
Where Students of Determination have additional dietary requirements that cannot be managed in line with guidance for other students, their specific needs must be considered as part of the Risk Assessment process and discussed with parents. Any decisions and provisions made must be communicated to all appropriate members of staff.
Schools shall conduct inspections and perform necessary maintenance on water systems to ensure their safety following a period of prolonged disuse.
Waste generated at school should be packed in strong black bags, closed completely and disposed of for the municipal waste collection to pick up.
Medical waste generated by the school clinic must be disposed of as per the requirements set by the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre.
After waste is disposed of, hands must be washed for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
Any additional and specific Waste Management needs for Students of Determination must be considered as part of the Risk Assessment procedure and measures clearly communicated to appropriate members of staff.
Latest Updates: 14 January 2021
Students are strongly advised to arrive to school by individual means, whenever possible, in order to alleviate pressure on the bus system.
Travel time should be increased to consider heavier traffic during this period.
If students are carpooling, parents should keep track of daily carpooling arrangements for contact tracing purposes.
Bus Safety and Hygiene Measures
All students who are in Grade 1 and above are required to wear a mask.
Temperature checks must be carried out for each child before pickup from home and school.
Younger students must be accompanied by an adult guardian until seated on the bus. Their temperature will be taken inside the bus close to the entrance and the student will need to disembark if found to have an elevated body temperature.
In case a student shows symptoms during the trip to school, they must be seated 2m away from other students and placed in isolation upon arrival at school to follow the incident management protocol. If symptoms occur during the trip back home, the student must be seated 2m away from other students and be dropped off first. The incident must be reported to the school response team for follow up.
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
A student showing symptoms is required to visit a SEHA Primary Healthcare Doctor to be assessed and may only return to school upon fulfilling the requirements outlined in the ‘Guide for Private Schools Covid-19 Response Teams’.
All school buses must be equipped with hand sanitizer at their entrance doors. Bus monitors should be provided with sanitizing wipes and an appropriate waste bin.
No food or drink (other than water) can be consumed on the bus.
Students must sanitize their hands when getting on the bus, and once before dismounting.
Students must maintain a distance of 1.5m from each other while boarding and dismounting the bus.
Only one bus at a time may allow students to descend and enter the school premises. Students should wait inside their bus until all students have disembarked from the previous bus.
Areas around the school entrance should be demarcated for bus drop-off organization (drop-ff area vs. bus waiting area).
Descending from the bus should be done in an orderly fashion, row by row, and respecting social distancing.
Each bus is required to have at least one bus supervisor to check students’ temperatures, dispense hand sanitizer, tend to students who require assistance, and usher them when disembarking.
Students should be assigned seating, with the same seating assignments maintained daily.
The interior of the bus must be cleaned and disinfected after each one-way trip.
Bus drivers and supervisors shall follow all health and safety standards, including having their temperatures measured and screening for symptoms on a daily basis.
Space and Capacity Management
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
Following the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) guidelines, buses may carry a maximum capacity of between 59% and 66%, depending on the type of vehicle.
Siblings may be seated together as long as they maintain social distancing from other groups of siblings/other students.
All seats must be marked with tape/paint/stickers to show students where to sit.
Where Students of Determination require additional support from an adult, a clear and comprehensive Risk Assessment must be conducted and travel plan developed.
Where Students of Determination travel on school buses and also use supplementary aids to ensure their safety, such as “car seats,” specific harnesses, etc., these should be disinfected in accordance with the protocols outlined.
Scheduling and Shifts
Schools shall review and update their transportation plans considering their fleet, number of students using the transportation facility, and the social distancing requirements.
Schools will need to stagger student arrival and departure times based on arrival/entry by bus or by other means to avoid crossover between the two groups. To allow working parents maximum time between drop-off and pick up, it is advised to schedule private drop-off before bus drop-off at the start of the day, but bus pick-up before private pick-up at the end of the day.
Schools shall collect daily bus passenger logs to enable contact tracing in case a student tests positive for COVID-19.
Provision of Bus Service
Schools are strongly advised to provide bus service to accommodate parents who do not have alternative arrangements. The provision or cancellation of bus service remains at the discretion of the school upon assessment of demand.
Incident Management and Emergency Readiness
Latest Updates: 14 January 2021
Protocols for Contact Tracing and Handling COVID-19 Positive and Suspected Cases
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
In case a student, teacher or member of the school staff reports that they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in contact with a positive case or suspected to be infected by the virus, the school COVID-19 response team must immediately follow the relevant protocols included in the ‘Guide for Private Schools Covid-19 Response Teams’ shared by ADEK’s COVID-19 Incident Management Team.
Ensure that all school staff /response team members are well aware of the protocols outlined in the ‘Guide for Private Schools Covid-19 Response Teams’ and are clear on the actions required to handle any positive or suspected case (via a clear checklist, process charts, etc.)
Setting Up a Response Team with Defined Roles in the School
A “Team Leader”, ideally the Principal or Vice Principal.
A “First Responder”, who must be a trained medical professional or healthcare provider, ideally the school nurse, and must be present in the school premises during the entire school day to offer emergency care to students handle COVID-19 related incidents, and refer them appropriately if needed.
A “Facilities Supervisor” responsible for the hygiene management/sanitization of the school and responsible for members/staff/student movements and utilization of facilities in the school premises.
A “Contact Tracing Supervisor”, responsible for reviewing staff and student attendance records in case a student or member of staff reports testing positive for COVID-19. This person will identify and record the group of people who may have come in contact with the infected person. This role must be supported by trained members for contact tracing.
A “COVID-10 Focal Person”, responsible for communicating with staff, parents and ADEK in the case of any COVID-related incident at school.
Establishing a Quarantine Space within the School Premises
A quarantine room in or near the school clinic should be established and equipped in accordance with the approved specifications of suspected cases of staff or students. If the quarantine room is outside the clinic, then care must be taken when transferring a suspected case from the clinic to the room (ensure social distancing and mask-wearing).
A specialized nurse in the school clinic to take the necessary preventive measures for suspected cases and to inform the concerned authorities.
The space must be adequately ventilated and have its own separate bathroom with toilet and hand washing facilities.
If the space is to be used by multiple people, there should be at least 1 bed available and social distancing of at least 2m should be maintained.
If the school enrolls male and female students in Cycles 2 and 3, gender segregated spaces should be provided in the form of two quarantine rooms, each with their own ensuite bathroom.
Essential supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including surgical masks, gloves, single-use long-sleeved aprons or gowns and face shields must be present in the quarantine room. N95 masks should be available for the school nurse when handling suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Cleaning supplies such as a hypochlorite-based surface disinfectant, rubber gloves and PPE for cleaning staff must be available in the quarantine room.
A trained medical professional must always be available in/near this quarantine room when a patient is admitted.
The medical professional must always maintain a distance of 2m from the suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient. If this is not possible, the medical professional must wear PPE before approaching the patient.
Schools are not allowed to manage or administer any medicines for symptomatic relief of COVID-19 symptoms without parental consent unless deemed lifesaving or essential. If a school carries medicines and/or equipment for dealing with medical emergencies, it must ensure consent of the student’s parent/guardian and administer any treatment only through a trained medical professional at their own risk. The administration of paracetamol is allowed if parents will take a while to arrive to reduce fever. If a student is short of breath, basic low flow oxygen can be administered until he/she is moved to hospital.
Under no circumstance should schools try to manage any COVID-19 cases on their own. In case a patient’s condition deteriorates and emergency services are required, the medical professional must follow existing procedures for dealing with medical emergencies.
The student with an onset of COVID-19 symptoms should be moved to the quarantine room and picked up by a guardian as soon as possible. In the case of a staff member, they should follow the medical professional’s recommendations.
Guidance on Protocols for Managing a COVID-19 Related Incident at School
In this section, a “COVID-19 related incident” refers to a student or staff having sudden onset of symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, cough or sore throat with or without fever.
In case a COVID-19 related incident occurs where a student is experiencing symptoms, their teacher must immediately inform the Team Leader, and provide the student with a surgical mask if he/she is able to tolerate wearing the mask.
The Team Leader must arrange for the First Responder to collect the student from their classroom and move them to the quarantine room while keeping a distance of 2m from them, and ensuring that the student avoids touching high-contact surfaces such as railings, doors, etc.
The Team Leader must also instruct the Facilities Supervisor to immediately have the classroom cleaned and disinfected, especially the affected student’s desk and belongings.
The Team Leader must also inform the COVID-19 Focal Person, who will call the student’s parent/legal guardian to have them picked up immediately to be taken home/to a hospital.
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
The criteria for returning to school includes clinical improvement, completion of the required isolation period and two consecutive negative results.
Guidance for School Clinic Staff
Schools shall have School Clinics on the premises as per Policy 64 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
Schools shall employ a full-time school nurse who holds a valid Department of Health (DoH) healthcare professional license for registered school nurses.
Clinic staff shall verify that all furniture, PPE (for clinic staff but also for students/staff developing symptoms while on school premises), and other equipment required by the healthcare authorities are available and stocked, and that any other requirements regarding the clinic’s physical space have been met.
The school clinic should have an updated list of all staff and students who have high-risk medical conditions.
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
The school nurse should report confirmed COVID-19 cases (students/teachers/staff with positive COVID-19 PCR result) through the ADEK COVID-19 reporting form and the Infectious Diseases Notification (IDN) system.
Clinic staff shall work with the COVID-19 Taskforce to ensure all staff and students are aware of the availability of their services, the location of the clinic, as well as COVID-19 related protocols.
All clinic staff should have full awareness of the needs of Students of Determination. These include any communication, sensory, physical, emotional or behavioral needs. These needs should also be clearly communicated through a Student Profile to any health professionals involved in an emergency.
Specific COVID-19 training for school clinic staff will be communicated at a later time in conjunction with relevant authorities.
As per the laws and regulations of civil defense, dedicated exit routes must be maintained clear at all times to permit prompt evacuation. They must be unobstructed and only used in case of fire or emergency.
Any social distancing arrangement should take that into account and should allow pupils to evacuate safely.
Any adaptations to regular emergency drills (i.e. fire, earthquake, evacuation, etc.) will be communicated to schools at a later time in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Civil Defense.
Extracurricular Activities and Travel
Latest Updates: 9 February 2021
[Latest Updates: 9 February 2021]
While ADEK strongly encourages the participation of all children in activities promoting their health and wellbeing, extracurricular activities, whether operated by the school or by a third-party provider during or after school hours, shall be suspended within the school premises until further notice.
Extracurricular activities may be allowed to continue remotely, if the nature of the activity is such that remote participation is possible.
All interschool events such as debates, literature contests, performing arts or IT and science competitions shall be suspended or moved completely online until further notice.
All interschool sporting events are suspended until further notice.
School trips are currently suspended until further notice.
Last Updated on 14 January 2021
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
Parents may choose the learning mode (whether their children will return to school for face-to-face learning or continue distance learning) but must commit to the chosen learning mode for the full term.
If parents choose to send their child to school physically, they will need to sign a physical return declaration stating that they will keep their child at home if he/she displays any COVID-19 symptoms.
Exempt students are still required to attend classes remotely via distance learning.
Where Students of Determination follow a distance learning mode due to their increased vulnerability or the inability of the school to provide the appropriate measures to ensure safety, they must be provided with all learning materials to enable their academic, emotional, and behavioral progress. Parents and students must be provided with support to access the learning materials which should all be appropriately differentiated according to needs and levels. Their attendance will be marked accordingly.
These policies should be read in conjunction with the Policy 54 and Policy 55 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
Schools shall develop a system by which students at home can “check-in” every day to keep track of attendance.
Attendance is compulsory during all modes of learning (face-to-face or distance learning). A student is marked absent if they fail to attend classes.
An absence is only authorized for the following reasons, confirmed by a signed letter from Parents/Guardians or by way of official documents to attest for the full duration of the absence:
- Death of a first- or second-degree family member
- Scheduled doctor appointments
- Official community task
- Mandatory appearance before an official body
- Essential urgent family travel for matters such as medical treatment or the death of a family member
Schools shall immediately communicate with parents following an unauthorized absence or a cumulative absence rate of 10% or more.
Schools shall collect and maintain accurate attendance records for all students.
Parents shall notify the school in advance of any planned absences and submit the required documentation.
Where exemption to return to school is granted to any Student of Determination to ensure their health and safety or that of other students, staff, and community members, schools shall provide clear and comprehensive educational provision to ensure their ongoing academic, social, behavioral and emotional progress during distance learning. All decisions must consider the needs of the child and their parents and all efforts must be made to accommodate the Student of Determination appropriately.
School staff shall attend the full workday as per the school’s calendar in accordance with the official contracted work hours.
Upon consultation and agreement with the school, the continuation of remote work for certain staff may be necessary for health reasons. Staff with any high-risk health conditions must submit a medical certificate attesting the medical condition.
School staff must inform the school in advance of their absence, when possible, to allow for planning that will ensure continuity of learning for students.
“Stay Home When in Doubt” Policy
Any member of the school community feeling unwell and/or exhibiting any COVID-19 associated symptoms should stay home. They will not be permitted to enter the school’s premises or will be isolated according to the incident management protocol if their illness should be evident during the day.
Medical clearance is required to return to school premises following a period of physical absence.
Large assemblies are not permitted, and schools shall continue to perform the UAE National Anthem in classrooms.
Students of Determination must be provided with appropriate support as outlined on their IEP to participate in all school activities on an equitable basis as their peers. Where Health and Safety needs prevent this, alternative provision must be outlined on the IEP.
School Reopening Models
Full, Partial, and Distance-Learning Models
In light of new social distancing requirements (1.5m between students, and students and staff; 2 m between staff), schools shall complete an analysis of their physical capacity to determine whether they are be able to reopen fully or partially see Appendix 5: Reopening Models.
Schools may choose to reopen fully if they can accommodate all students onsite at any given moment.
Schools may choose to reopen partially if they can only accommodate a portion of students onsite at any given moment.Schools are not authorized to implement a full distance learning model, unless required to do so due to government directives, non-compliance or temporary reclosure following a COVID-19-incident.
Schools may decide to combine models to cater for the needs of different student groups. Schools who are considering a model other than the ones proposed must contact ADEK.
When selecting the reopening model for the school, schools shall take into consideration the results of the ADEK Parent Survey. ADEK recommends that the model that allows for the maximum amount of contact hours per student be considered but determination of the most appropriate reopening model for a school must also weigh safety, student learning, teacher workload, priority groups, parent needs, and the school’s logistical feasibility in implementing whichever model is chosen.
Social distancing and safe operation measures, continued distance learning (for students and staff staying home), and readiness to revert to full distance learning underpin every model presented.
Students of Determination should have all aspects of their educational provision met in an equitable manner to their peers. Support to access learning and enable progress should be provided in line with guidance given in these sections:
Students of Determination should be supported with appropriate differentiated materials to enable them to access remote learning from home. This should be an extension of the work completed in school to ensure continuation of learning. Schools shall also plan and deliver intervention sessions to maximize impact on learning.
Full Return Model
Schools may choose to resume full school operations where all students return to school for face-to-face learning.
Schools shall consider the following when choosing a full return model:
- Full return implies as close to full operations as is possible, considering that shortened hours may be necessary to accommodate transition times (staggered arrivals and departures, breaks, additional handwashing sessions, etc.)
- Where possible, non-classroom spaces may be converted for classroom use.
- Distance learning continues to be required for students and staff who are home.
If capacity allows, a full return model is preferred to allow all students to return to school with as close to a regular schedule as possible.
Partial Return Model
Schools may choose to resume partial school operations where students return to school at a lower capacity using a blended learning approach (face-to-face and distance learning).
Schools may choose one of the partial return model options in Table 1 below. (see Appendix 5: Reopening Models for more details and example schedules).
||Partial return model where all students are grouped into 2 half-day shifts (attend either morning or afternoon), with distance learning [DL] for the non-FTF group.||• Reduced contact hours, but most regular Face to Face (FTF) learning
• Logistically demanding (2 daily bus and cleaning shifts)
• Higher risk of mixing groups
|Alternating Day Model
||Partial return model where all students are grouped into 2 alternate-day shifts (attend FTF a minimum of 2 days per week), with DL for the non-FTF group.
||• Reduced contact hours
• Somewhat regular FTF learning (without long breaks)
• Logistically manageable (daily bus and cleaning shifts)
• Somewhat easy to trace and isolate in case of an incident
|Alternating Week Model
||Partial return model where all students are grouped into 2 alternate-week shifts (attend FTF 1 week fully, 1-week rest, 1 week fully, etc.), with DL for the non-FTF group.||• Stability and full contact hours
• Long irregular breaks between each week
• Logistically the most feasible
• Easiest to trace and isolate in case of an incident
||Hybrid of alternating-day and alternating-week model where a 5-day week is stretched out over two weeks, so group A would attend FTF 2 days in Week 1, then 3 days in Week 2. DL for the non-FTF group.||• Full contact hours
• Somewhat regular FTF learning (without long breaks)
• Logistically manageable
• Somewhat easy to trace and isolate in case of an incident
Mandatory Distance Learning Provision
Whether reopening fully or partially, all schools shall provide distance learning to cater for students and staff who cannot physically be present on campus.
- Distance learning modes can include live streaming, recorded live classes for playback, pre-recorded classes, independent work packages, group/partner sessions, offline project-based work, etc.
- Schools shall inform parents of what distance learning entails and the different modes by which it is delivered. This is important to manage parent expectation that distance learning is not just live sessions with teachers.
Distance learning does not imply double teaching (double workload or double contact hours). Teacher workload can be effectively managed by diversifying distance learning modes.
To simplify scheduling, schools may want to consider assigning teachers who are working at home (either regularly or on an ad hoc basis) to teach the distance learning courses of the day.
Readiness to Resort to Full Distance Learning
To prepare for the possibility of reclosure, all schools must be ready to resort to full distance-learning mode at any time.
Last Updated on 14 January 2021
Student Grouping Levels
Schools shall organize students by groups and ensure that measures are in place to limit mixing between groups. How grouping is determined is at the discretion of each school.
Given the high number of students that take the school bus, schools are recommended to determine grouping on at least two levels: bus groups and class groups to ensure the following:
- All students who take private transportation would only be interacting with their class group
- All students who ride the school bus would only interact with their class and bus groups
Any partial model adopted should consider grouping students by family to ease working parents’ schedules.
Schools shall evaluate their ability to conform with the recommendations outlined for any Students of Determination. Risk Assessments should be conducted and IEPs developed to enable Students of Determination equitable access to return to school.
Students of Determination should not be discriminated against, but where necessary, additional arrangements must be made, and resources implemented, to support their return to school alongside their peers. Arrangements should be discussed with parents and clear communication on student groupings provided.
Schools are advised to organize entry/exit by bus groups as staggered entry by class groups is not possible for students arriving in school buses.
Staggered entry times are recommended for the remaining students who are arriving by other means. Schools are advised to designate specific time frames for arrival that do not coincide with bus timings.
Once on the school premises, groups should be organized by classes to minimize mixing with other grades.
Bubbles refer to a group of students and teachers/school staff that spend the entire school day together, and do not interact with others during this period.
This strategy is particularly useful for reducing the risk of cross-transmission of the virus between young students who have difficulty practicing social distancing.
[Updated on 14 January 2021]
Bubbles consist of a maximum of 10 students and a dedicated teaching team of at least one teacher (and other teachers/assistants if staffing allows). Bubbles should remain in the same classroom throughout the day (except for breaks) and toys and other shared resources must not be accessible to other groups without prior cleaning and disinfection.
Bubbles are highly recommended for KG and early Cycle 1 if staffing allows. However, schools may also group these students in regular socially distanced classrooms of 25 for KG and 30 for Cycle 1 (with masks for Grade 1 and above). Bubbles are not possible for older students. A single KG classroom may not accommodate more than 25 students as per Policy 44 and 66 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
In the KG section, accessibility to staff who are trained in pediatric first aid and CPR is required (and a mouth mask should be available as part of their first aid kit).
Staff who provide additional support to Students of Determination should be assigned a bubble which limits their exposure to other students. It may be necessary to divide Teaching/Learning Support Assistants into bubbles to minimize contact with other teachers and students.
In addition to maintaining the smaller general groups (bus groups, class groups), the school should be divided into 3-4 macro-bubbles (i.e. all staff and students across grades).
There should be absolutely no mixing of spaces outside of these macro-bubbles (i.e. an art teacher may teach both Grade 1 and Grade 3 classes and therefore would be assigned to a larger macro-bubble encompassing other Grade 1 and Grade 3 teachers and students). If there was an incident, this would allow for the isolation of only that macro-bubble for testing and further action.
Exceptions may be necessary to account for schools who may have physical or operational limitations to the macro-bubble rule, in cases where there are key members of staff who need to work across more than one macro-bubble. Please ensure a separate list is kept for those individuals, as they may be subject to different procedures.
Building on Distance Learning Practices
IT Staffing/Outsourcing Plans to Manage and Consolidate Online Learning
All schools must be prepared to transition to a full distance learning mode in the case of a virus outbreak or other public health emergencies, based on guidance received from ADEK.
Schools are encouraged to:
- Re-evaluate their educational technology needs based on the experience of distance learning, as expressed by teachers, academic leaders, parents and students. Educational technology may refer to online learning apps, platforms, video communication tools, etc.
- Develop a clear implementation plan for online learning in the case of another outbreak, including which software/ed-tech tools to use, creating accounts for teachers and students as needed, and plans for rollout of online learning, including communication with parents.
- Appoint IT focal persons through assigning additional duties to existing staff or through new recruitment of specialised staff to support any IT-based issues that teachers, students or parents may face to ensure equitable access to online teaching for everyone.
- Appoint an IT trainer to provide context-relevant training to teachers and students on using the school’s specific platforms as needed.
Online Security and Privacy Maintenance for Students, Teachers and Administrative Staff
Schools shall carry out an exhaustive risk-assessment for all online technology tools that they deploy or intend to deploy, and develop actions to mitigate risks, where identified.
The Risk Assessment can be carried out with support from the developers of the software/learning platform under use but must be led by the school administration.
Schools shall communicate the Risk Assessment results and mitigating actions to staff, parents, and students with clear roles and responsibilities defined for each stakeholder.
Schools are mandated to conduct age-appropriate sessions with students on staying safe online. Schools may consider using widely available resources to deliver these messages and online safety training to students.
Advice on School-Based Evaluation of Distance Learning through Parent, Teacher, and Student Surveys or Focus Group Discussions
The Education Quality Assurance and Monitoring Office at ADEK has shared results from the Distance Learning Evaluation process with schools. Based on these results, schools are encouraged to develop an action plan to address areas of improvement within their distance learning delivery.
Schools are also encouraged to conduct their own internal evaluations of their distance learning programs through parent/teacher/student surveys or focus group discussions.
Continuing the Use of Online Learning to Build Resilience for the Future
While schools are mandated to continue to provide distance learning to students, schools have the discretion of choosing the duration, instructional materials, instructional approach, and technological tools best suited to their context to deliver their online offering.
However, schools must ensure that students who are attending through distance learning only must receive adequate supports and opportunities to interact with teachers and peers to guarantee equity.
Instructions for Schools to Comply with Copyright Restrictions during Remote and Flexible Learning
Schools shall abide by the terms laid out in Federal Law No. (7) of 2002 On Copyrights and Related Rights while teaching online.
Under the provisions of this law, the making of one or more copy of a work (including publications such as textbooks), sound recording, broadcast program, or any performance in any manner or form, including loading of permanent or temporary electronic storage, regardless of the method or device used in copying is prohibited.
Curriculum and Teaching
Advice on Reintegrating Non-Core Subjects into Distance Learning
Schools may deliver reduced face-to-face hours of instruction due to social distancing requirements, with a focus placed on core subjects (Arabic, Islamic studies, English, Math, and sciences), ADEK strongly recommends that schools also offer non-core subjects in distance learning mode to support students’ emotional wellbeing if these topics cannot be taught face-to-face.
Advice on Additional Topics to be Included in the Curriculum
The pandemic may have had detrimental effects on the financial, physical and mental wellbeing of students and their families in multiple ways. Many children may have experienced the loss of a parent or guardian’s job and its accompanying financial security, the loss of a relative or friend to COVID-19 or have had difficulties coping in distressful family situations during lockdowns.
Moreover, the increased usage of digital media for delivering distance learning has posed multiple challenges of online safety for students.
In line with Abu Dhabi’s vision of fostering transversal skills in students, schools may consider including instruction, or age-appropriate programs related to digital literacy (defined as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills) and building self-management behaviours such as resilience, flexibility and adaptability, empathy, coping with stress and loss, etc.
Identifying Areas of Learning Loss and Developing Interventions
Schools shall carry out evaluations of student learning to identify learning gaps and make necessary adjustments. This evaluation can be based on assessments administered during distance learning, but schools are encouraged to assess students’ learning face-to-face as well to determine any areas that must be revised or re-taught and integrate these into the program of the new Academic Year.
Spiral learning, where the focus is on moving ahead and revisiting and relearning topics as they arise, is recommended, particularly for Cycle 3 students.
Schools are encouraged to develop and deliver extra interventions to students who have experienced severe learning loss due to online learning or have performed poorly on assessments of content learned during distance learning. Schools are recommended to teach these lessons in a tutorial-style setting, only for students that need the additional learning support.
Classroom Assistant Recruitment
Schools may hire additional classroom assistants as needed to meet the needs of social distancing during the school day, provided that these recruitments comply with Policy 25 and updated Policy 26 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
Additional Staff for Health Services
Schools may hire additional health services staff (doctors or nurses), or make arrangements for emergency care with local hospitals at their own discretion, provided that any such recruitment complies with the rules (see Guidance for School Clinic Staff under Incident Management and Emergency Readiness), and guidance provided in Policy 64 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15.
Guidance on Appointment Letters for New Teachers/Teaching Assistants
Schools may have to recruit additional faculty (teachers or teaching assistants) to meet the new operational requirements of reduced class sizes.
Schools shall select suitable candidates that meet their requirements in line with the guidance for transitional arrangements for teaching faculty appointment set out in Policy 25 and updated Policy 26 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-2015.
ADEK shall issue appointment letters in accordance with Policy 25 and updated Policy 26 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-2015.
Schools are legally responsible to ascertain the authenticity of the candidate and the documents provided.
Recruitment for Learning Support/Inclusion Assistants must demonstrate clear consideration of the qualification and experience of the candidate in working with Students of Determination in accordance to updated Policy 26 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-2015. A comprehensive induction process should be delivered which covers all aspects of any Risk Assessment and IEP in place.
Policy on Renewal of Teacher's Appointment Letters
ADEK will continue to renew teachers’ appointment letters subject to requests, approvals and due diligence by schools.
Addressing Staffing Needs and Student-Teacher Ratios Based on New Classroom Grouping
Schools shall make alternative plans for managing student caseload and teacher workload in case existing teachers fall under the at-risk group, are unwell, are self-isolating due to risk of possible COVID exposure.
Teacher Professional Development
As part of the school’s preparedness for delivering learning in a face-to-face as well as distance learning modes, teachers must be provided with professional development on IT and online learning and diagnosing and managing students' social-emotional needs.
Within IT and online learning, suggested training could focus on the following topics: particular online platforms that the school uses, navigating and using e-learning tools, online safety for teachers and their students, good pedagogical practices for online instruction, and managing online and face-to-face learning without double-planning.
Teachers will also have an important role in supporting students’ wellbeing during the return to school and continuation of learning in the new normal. To this end, schools shall offer resources and sessions on teacher’s own wellbeing, identifying students’ social emotional needs and supporting students with strategies to cope with the uncertainty and stress of the pandemic.
Examination and Assessment
Evaluating Students Learning During Distance Learning and Diversifying Assessment Methods for the Future
Schools are recommended to use diagnostic and formative assessments to identify gaps in learning.
Schools are advised to conduct formative assessments to evaluate learning for students who will continue to stay home.
Summative assessments, unless high-stakes in which case travel to the exam site will be mandatory, are not recommended for low-stakes purposes (especially considering that some students will continue to remain offsite).
Advice on Universal Promotion
Student promotion should be privileged to maintain a student within his/her original cohort in line with Policy 46 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-2015. Schools should address learning loss through spiraling/remediation.
Preparing Students for Higher Education Entrance Exams and Applications
Schools shall refer to the examination body relevant to their curriculum/curricula to determine changes to exam schedules, content requirements, protocols for assessment, and technological requirements.
For any independent Higher Education entrance tests (i.e. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.), students should refer to the test provider websites to be informed of changes to schedules, requirements, or processes.
Examination Officers and Higher Education/Careers Guidance Counsellors are expected to be informed of changes to application processes across systems and shall advise students accordingly.
ADEK's Policy on National Examinations, University Entrance Tests/Processes in the UAE
Schools shall follow the Ministry of Education’s announcements regarding any changes to dates or processes for the national exams (EMSAT).
For information regarding university admissions, students should refer to the university websites to be informed of changes to application schedules, requirements, and processes.
Advice on Conducting Exams
For details regarding assessments during the distance learning period, see 1st section on this page titled "Evaluating Students Learning During Distance Learning and Diversifying Assessment Methods for the Future/in case of Further School Closures".
If a low-stakes summative assessment is necessary, teachers are asked to reduce the length of the assessment as much as possible.
Students should be placed 1.5 m apart.
Students of Determination must be allowed examination accommodations relevant to their needs, i.e. extra time, reader, scribe, etc., without discrimination. The arrangement should be outlined on the IEP and considered through the Risk Assessment process.
Details may vary depending on the specificities of each exam (i.e. exam requirements, materials to bring, examination protocol), however, schools shall adhere to the following common standards:
- Exam rooms must be fitted with ventilation systems that have been inspected recently.
- Cleaning and disinfection of the exam room and prior to the time of the exam.
- Placement of contactless sanitizing hand gels and wipes at the entrance.
- If possible, the room should have two separate access points: one for entry and one for exit. The directions assigned to each should be indicated according to the time of day (entry for exam start, exit for exam end)
- Desks should be spaced 1.5 m apart, facing forward, and installed with hooks to hang personal belongings.
- Temperature checks must be administered when entering the exam room (unless already completed when entering the school premises).
- Students should sanitize their hands when entering and leaving the room.
- Signed self-declarations that examinees do not have COVID-19 symptoms nor have been in close contact with any suspected or positive cases should be collected. If such is the case, medical clearance via testing is required. These must be placed upon the examiners desk upon entrance
- Only examinees, examiners, and other persons authorized by the examining body may enter the exam room.
- No waiting is allowed within the exam room nor its immediate premises (i.e. within a school or an independent exam center). This applies to students who have completed their exams and anyone accompanying them.
- Student identity check is mandatory for logging as well as fraud prevention purposes.
- Students of Determination must be allowed examination accommodations relevant to their needs i.e., extra time, reader, scribe, etc. without discrimination. The arrangement should be outlined on the IEP and considered through the Risk Assessment process.
Supporting Students and Staff Cope with Anxiety/Trauma
Schools shall develop a staff and student wellbeing plan based on their individual Risk Assessments in conjunction with school counselors.
Staff and students may be returning to school having experienced effects related to confinement, social isolation, and loss and bereavement amongst many other things. Schools may want to consider hiring additional counselors to support the school community (students but also teachers and staff) with post-confinement as well as identify age- and context-appropriate resources to cope with mental health issues.
Counsellors and wellbeing support staff should have appropriate knowledge of how to communicate with Students of Determination and demonstrate an understanding of their unique circumstances. Students of Determination may be more emotionally vulnerable as a result of the COVID 19 situation and this may impact negatively upon their emotional health and wellbeing.
Where Counsellors do not have the appropriate training and expertise to support and communicate with Students of Determination, professional training and advice should be sought from staff members familiar with the needs of the student whilst ensuring their right to privacy. If this support cannot be found within the school due to issues of privacy, Counsellors should seek advice from other professionals whilst maintaining the student’s confidentiality.
Developing Resources to Safeguard Students from Online Harassment and Exploitation in Preparation for Future Remote Learning
Schools shall review their existing online harassment policies to include any additional risks as identified as part of their Risk Assessment.
Schools are encouraged to develop resources and awareness campaigns to teach students on how to identify cyberbullying (whether as a victim or perpetuator) and mechanisms to protect oneself from being bullied/bullying further.
Students of Determination may be at increased vulnerability to online harassment and exploitation. Students of Determination must receive training and the appropriate resources to support their personal cybersafety. Parents of Students of Determination should also be supported to be alert to instances of harassment and concerns over cybersafety. All reports of online harassment must be reported to the school immediately and dealt with as appropriate.
Advice on School-Based Programs and Projects to Improve Hygiene/Information Availability/Awareness/Solutions for Everyday Problems Caused by COVID-19
Schools shall dedicate time to teach about and demystify COVID-19, its misconceptions, and how students as individuals play a part in limiting the spread of disease by practicing the 3 preventive behavioral measures (social distancing, wearing PPE, and enforcing good hygiene).
Whenever appropriate, schools shall integrate COVID-19 as an educational theme across subjects to embed real-life context into student learning (i.e. languages, science, math, current events, history, geography, etc.).
Schools shall create collaborative projects to engage students in trying to find solutions for everyday problems caused or related to COVID-19, including suggestions for how to improve conditions within the school.
Advice on Working from Home (Targeting Mental and Physical Health)
The staff and student wellbeing plan shall equally address risks to staff wellbeing as identified in schools’ Risk Assessments.
Schools are highly encouraged to implement interventions focused on tackling the mental and physical health of all staff.
To minimize a sense of isolation, schools are encouraged to regroup staff around teams if not already in place, with regular check-in sessions between school leaders and teams, or between teams to share advice.
Guidance on Communicating with Parents and Students (Regular Days, in case of a COVID Incident, in the Aftermath of a COVID Incident)
Transparency is of utmost importance in tackling COVID-19. Schools shall develop a parent communication plan.
School shall regularly communicate with parents, many who are extremely anxious about sending their children to school.
Communication is recommended on a weekly basis (i.e. brief update email, newsletter, etc.) to keep them abreast of progress, challenges, and to remind them of their role in keeping their children safe by enforcing the 3 basic preventive measures (see Framework for Policies and Guidelines)
Schools shall inform parents of their COVID-19 incident management process in addition to all of the safety measures that have been implemented at school. Further guidance will be provided at a later date in conjunction with the relevant authorities.
For parents of Students of Determination, it may be necessary to communicate more frequently regarding issues that may arise. It is advisable that one person, in liaison with the Principal, takes responsibility for any additional communication from the school to the parents of Students of Determination. This may take the form of a Home-School Diary, Daily Planner or daily email communication. This should not however replace all other home-school communication.
Communication to Students Setting Expectations Regarding the New School Year/Conditions, Developing a Culture that Prevents COVID-19 (e.g. Tapping Elbows etc.)
Schools shall communicate with students via parents prior to their return to campus to set expectations concerning what a school day with social distancing will look like, what the general weekly schedule might be, and most of all, to reassure students that returning to campus is safe and to their benefit.
Communication regarding what students can do personally to help prevent infection in school (the 3 preventive measures) may be done prior to returning, but also enforced regularly through training sessions, refresher sessions, etc.
Students of Determination may require a personalized ‘Return to School’ communication relative to their cognitive ability, physical, behavior, social or emotional needs. This should be devised in a child-friendly manner and be relevant to the procedures in place to support their access to school.
Guidance on Signage to be Strategically Placed around the School Premises
In addition to floor and wall signage to indicate directions, waiting areas, social distancing, etc., informative posters should be placed in strategic places to remind all students and staff of relevant behavior (i.e. how to wash hands properly, etc.).
Posters will be distributed to schools before the start of the new term, but schools are also encouraged to create their own posters adapted to their context.
Guidance on Avoiding/Reducing Stigmatization When Talking about COVID-19 or Encountering an Incident
Schools shall develop anti-stigmatization policies and integrate strategies into any awareness campaigns concerning misconceptions around COVID-19.
Schools must, as much as is possible, maintain the privacy and confidentiality of suspected or confirmed cases within the school community, and remind others to not behave in negative ways that exacerbate the victim’s feelings of exclusion already induced by isolation.
Schools shall communicate their non-stigmatization policy to students, parents and staff and encourage them to always behave in appropriate ways.
Guidance on Fee Collection for the Academic Year 2020/2021
Schools shall charge tuition as per the ADEK approved fees for the 2020/2021 academic year in accordance with Policy 39 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-2015.
Full tuition will apply to all students regardless of the mode of attendance and reopening model chosen by the school.
Financial Supports for Students Impacted Adversely by COVID-19 Related Layoffs or Financial Losses
As essential pillars of the society, schools are encouraged to find financial resources that they can devote to students in need to continue their education and avoid further social-emotional upheaval.
Schools are encouraged to develop financial aid schemes for students in need such as fee discounts, deferral of payments, splitting term fee into monthly installments, etc.
Policy on School Leaving and Transfers
Despite these arrangements, students may still consider leaving school for a host of reasons.
Schools shall keep records of students that have left school, along with the reason for leaving school, and the new school (in Abu Dhabi or elsewhere) where the student intends to enroll.
Schools shall follow the transfer procedure as per Policy 44 of the Private Schools Policy and Guidance Manual 2014-15 in the case of children leaving their school.
Arrangements to Meet the Needs of all Learners
As the range of special educational needs and disabilities is immensely diverse and unique to individuals, schools shall make the necessary arrangements to provide equitable access to Students of Determination based on their knowledge of the child, the accommodation available, the expertise of staff and their ability to meet the guidance outlined in Private School Reopening Policies and Guidelines.
ADEK expects schools to demonstrate their best endeavors to meet the needs of Students of Determination to be educated alongside their peers. Additional resources, training, adapted timetables or groupings may be required but wherever possible these should be provided to avoid discrimination.
Schools shall develop a Risk Assessment and IEP for every Student of Determination, whose education requires a highly personalized approach, in order to ensure equity of education provision.
Summer School/Summer Camp
Schools are not allowed to offer face-to-face summer camp this year (i.e. between July 2020 to September 2020). However, schools are welcome to organize summer camps online.
Guidance for Parents of Students who are Distance Learning
Schools shall maintain regular contact with parents of students who have opted for distance learning to ensure they feel supported in managing their child(ren)’s continued distance learning.
Schools are highly encouraged to conduct virtual open houses to allow distance learning student to virtually “visit” their school grounds.
Guidance for Schools to Engage Parents in Students' Remote Learning and Mental Wellbeing
With some form of distance learning continuing at least over the next term, schools shall actively involve parents in the distance learning process.
Schools shall collect and update the parents’/guardians’ contact information (email and phone).
ADEK's Policy on Receiving Complaints
ADEK will continue to operate its parent helpline at +971 56 377 1833, to look into complaints that callers may make regarding non-compliance with Private School Reopening Policies and Guidelines, or any other concerns.
Childcare for Priority Staff
Priority staff are staff whose on-campus presence is required to carry out their work (i.e. teachers giving face-to-face courses, etc.).
Schools may choose to allow school-aged children of priority staff (including children enrolled in other schools) on school premises if no other childcare solution can be arranged.
Rules Concerning Childcare of Priority Staff
Staff are strongly advised to seek alternative childcare arrangements for school-aged children. This is to cater to staff who need to be onsite but whose school-aged children may be at home that day/week if their school has opened with a partial model.
Children between the ages of 0-4 are prohibited from priority staff childcare at the school, and should be enrolled in a licensed nursery.
Schools shall rigorously maintain the separation of children within this “childcare group” with any other student groups on campus that day. These groups will be mixed across grades and thus should be kept as stable as possible from day to day, with daily attendance logged.
These groups must be supervised, and social distancing, PPE, and hygiene rules are to apply in the spaces accommodating these children.
Parents are responsible for bringing their children’s lunch, as well as any device (and non-distracting accessories, i.e. earphones) required for their children to engage in that day’s distance learning program.