How parents are making tough choices when it comes to education - GulfToday

How parents are making tough choices when it comes to education

kids school 2

All classroom supplies will be cleaned after each use by the cleaning staff assigned to each room.

Manjula Ramakrishnan

It has been a difficult decision to make for most parents. Sending their wards for the in-school experience or to retain them at home opting for distance learning has been the conundrum. With rising number of Covid cases, some parents have opted to keep their wards at home. Many others who do not want their children to miss the unparalleled classroom experience have chosen to send them to school.

Schools in UAE have in place prescribed procedures for in-school learning that are very comprehensive. Bill Delbrugge, who is Founding Director, Dunecrest American School, talks about both the scenarios.


Taiwanese designer Jason Wu puts on a fashion week show before a tiny audience in New York

Importance of vaccines explained by an expert

What is the future of hugs handshakes and high-fives?

“Our back-to-campus model promotes a normal face-to-face learning environment on campus. This is a traditional school experience with students attending school in person Sunday through Thursday. Preventive hygiene policies will be implemented in combination with realistic physical distancing guidelines to keep everyone safe. On the other hand if parents choose online education, we will support this decision and will deliver a distance learning plan that allows students to continue their learning through various online platforms; each student will be provided with a robust programme and regular, meaningful support during the suspension of formal classes.

“As we navigate the uncertainties associated with COVID-19, all schools will adjust the responses to external health conditions and risks. Epidemiologists predict infection rates will rebound with a second and third wave in the next 12-18 months and until a vaccine is developed, external conditions and associated risks will continue to fluctuate.”

 Preventive hygiene policies will be implemented in combination with realistic physical distancing guidelines to keep everyone safe.

To send or not to send…Bill Delbrugge elaborates.

What are your thoughts about distance learning versus in-school learning?

A regular school environment is best for teaching and learning; and distance learning is necessary only when health or safety conditions leave no other option. For some families with specific medical conditions, and if recommended by doctors, distance learning might be the best way to safe-guard against the effects of COVID-19. But the experience of learning within the walls of a classroom, amidst peers and in the presence of a teacher is quite often the preferred option. At Dunecrest, more than 95 per cent of our community has opted to return to campus for face-to-face learning. It is therefore every school’s priority to ensure robust safety protocols are in place.

What are the primary concerns to be addressed in opening of schools for regular learning?

Right on top of the agenda is health and safety of our students, staff and families. The importance of mitigating risk through precautions involves social responsibilities, preventive hygiene, facility cleaning and physical distancing as the cornerstone of planning.

kids school lunch 1 Children maintain social distancing at the school's lunch area.

For instance, the Dunecrest Back to School Plan has been developed through research into curbing the spread of infectious diseases from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) as well as lessons learned and good practices from other existing and similar schools worldwide.

What are the Covid guidelines currently being followed by schools in general?

To begin with, there will be a cap on enrolment of students to provide enough space to reasonably distance students and staff. Stickers on the floor will help ensure a 2 metre distance is maintained in all common areas, service desks, and where different groups of students, staff and visitors are mixing. Morning lines and multiple grade group gatherings will not be allowed. Prayer Rooms will remain closed until approved opening by KHDA. Classroom areas will be arranged so a distance of 1.5 metres will be maintained between each student.

While transitioning to the class, students must keep a 2 metre distance. While inside the classroom, students must maintain a 1.5-metre distance between each student. All supplies will be cleaned after each use by the cleaning staff assigned to the classroom.

There are regulations to do with use of the library too. When students are in the library, they must keep a 2 metre distance. The library staff must wear a mask and gloves. Counters must be cleaned after each class leaves the library and before a new class may enter. All returned books must be cleaned before they are returned for reuse.

And what would be the distance learning plan?

The components of distant learning will have opportunities with a daily video and student activities including live face to face learning and feedback opportunities with the teacher through Zoom. There will be a structured timetable that provides lessons for each class. A combination of live Zoom sessions, video lessons, recorded lessons, and learning activities that includes feedback to students will be a part of the prescribed plan. It is important that lessons and activities show progression or new learning, not just revision or consolidation. There will be an appropriate amount of work, coupled with ongoing and active support from teachers. Choosing one or the other mode of learning is the prerogative of a parent.

Related articles