Sharjah: All students, teachers and staff of private schools in Sharjah must test negative for COVID-19 before physically joining school in the new term, which begins August 30, the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) says in the newly-published ‘Guidelines for Reopening Private Schools in Sharjah’.
It adds that “school principals should be aware of the COVID-19 test schedule, which would impact their operational reopening plan. This might result in teachers, staff and students joining their schools in batches”.
The 29-page document says, “In collaboration with the health authorities in Sharjah, all students, teachers, and staff of all private schools will be tested for COVID-19 in advance of physically joining the school.
“This very important initiative, which is undertaken by the UAE Government to ensure the safety of students and school staff, might continue at different times during the remainder of the academic year in which regular testing of students, teachers and other staff members will be conducted. SPEA will communicate with all private schools any further related updates from the concerned health authorities…”
Also, in case teachers and staff have travelled abroad over the summer break, they should be back in the UAE 14 days before the start of the academic year, the 179-point guidelines say.
“Travel declaration forms will be required for all those who travel (in the last 14 days); these must be submitted to the school prior to travel occurring and re-confirmed before joining school.”
Also, parents have to download the Al Hosn App “to ensure traceability in the event of infection”.
COVID-19 Task Force
Meanwhile, each private school in Sharjah must create a ‘COVID-19 Task Force’, of a designated team of school health and safety officers, that “would be responsible for all the precautionary measures for the schools’ reopening. The Task Force must use this guide to conduct a risk assessment and ensure that the school is ready for reopening”.
Regarding the guidelines, SPEA says “additional instructions or an updated version of this document will be shared with schools accordingly”.
Student desks in the classrooms will be set apart by 1.5m and each room will have a maximum capacity based on the space available. “In some situations, particularly in lower grades, staff will be expected to move between classes, as opposed to students moving to receive lessons,” the document says. Meanwhile, spacing in the canteen will be 2m, to be used in staggered break times if needed to reduce crowding.
Students below six years (below Grade 1) are not required to wear masks. Students of Grade 1 and above, teachers and school staff members are required to bring a minimum of two masks each to school per day, for their personal use. Schools will hold an available stock of spare masks to supplement any student’s or visitor’s need.”
The school bus capacity should not exceed 50 per cent, and safe physical distances must be maintained by placing stickers on seats. The temperature will be taken prior to students entering the bus.
“Student will not be allowed to enter the bus if fever is apparent. Parents will have to wait with students until the bus departs,” the guidelines say.
Textbook school uniforms distribution
“Schools must avoid lines or crowds of parents in textbooks and school uniform distribution processes. Such activities must be planned after the school day and when students have left the school premises.
“Schools must ensure that textbooks and school uniforms are properly packaged and sanitised before starting the distribution process.”
Group activities such as school trips, celebrations, sports days, and student camps are cancelled.
What if there is a potential COVID-19 case?
If a student or staff member is suspected of being a COVID-19 positive case, he/she will be immediately moved to the school isolation room.
Only the school medical staff are permitted to enter the isolation room wearing full PPE.
The student’s parent/s will be contacted immediately by the school’s clinic medical staff and the concerned authorities will also be notified through official channels.
The school will strictly adhere to the health authority requirements for managing and transferring any suspected cases of COVID-19.
All areas which may have been accessed by the suspected case will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised/disinfected following any suspected cases. These areas will be closed immediately until the cleaning is completed.
Tracing will be conducted to identify those who may have come into contact with the suspected case. Health authority requirements will be strictly adhered to, this may include additional testing and isolation of persons who may have come into contact with the suspected case.
Each school will have a detailed medical policy and procedure in place, which will detail the emergency procedures undertaken to handle such situations.
Source: ‘Guidelines for Reopening Private Schools in Sharjah’/SPEA