An ADEK official during a school inspection in Abu Dhabi.
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
As schools throughout Abu Dhabi continue to reopen, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has announced it will continue regular inspections of all schools and nurseries to ensure ongoing compliance to wide-ranging COVID-19 prevention protocols and secure the safety of all staff, pupils, and parents.
ADEK has identified a sliding scale of penalties for regulation breaches with fines ranging from Dhs10,000 to Dhs250,000.
Repeated non-compliance can lead to schools being forced to shift to distance learning provision, with parents entitled to remove their children from the school and gain fee refunds.
Based on inspections, non-compliant nurseries can be immediately moved to distance learning for a week, or fined.
After inspecting all schools in the emirate last August and issuing No Objection Certificates to 220 compliant schools to reopen, ADEK is mandating further checks to maintain safety standards, with those found flouting the guidelines set to face stiff penalties.
"We have to put the safety of our community first and ongoing inspections are vital to ensure parents have confidence in the safety protocols of our schools and nurseries,” explained Amer Al Hammadi, Undersecretary of ADEK.
As of Feb.21, ADEK has conducted inspections at 221 schools reopening for in-classroom education and 119 operational nurseries.
The inspections track compliance across a range of 62 criteria, including adherence to social distancing protocols; the existence of on-premise COVID taskforces; regular cleaning and disinfection programmes; regular Covid-19 testing of staff and students aged 12 years and above; regulated classroom numbers, PPE equipment standards, and daily routine checks conducted by a nominated school compliance officer to ensure safety regulations are being followed.
"Our sincere hope is that none of these penalties will have to be exacted,” added Al Hammadi.
"We have confidence in our school and nursery communities and their desire to adhere to the regulations for the safety of all.”
School tours for new and prospective parents may also resume, while class sizes have been increased to a maximum of 30 students with 1.5m social distancing and compulsory face masks for Grade 1 and above.
For kindergarten, class size is capped at 25 students with 1.5-metre social distancing. Bubbles for younger children remain at a maximum of 10 students, in addition to a dedicated teaching team.
The Department of Education and Knowledge has obligated all private schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to conduct COVID-19 test for their administrative and teaching staff, as well as their workers every 14 days.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) has asked all schools to submit daily compliance self-check reports to it and fines for non-compliance violations range from Dhs10,000 to Dhs250,000.
Schools in Abu Dhabi will continue distance learning for another three weeks, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee announced.
Lake Worth Fire Chief Ryan Arthur said two pilots were taken to hospital after ejecting off the plane on Sunday.
“We are finalising arrangements with the UAE to include their nationals and residents in our plans to open up to the fully vaccinated from other countries from 4 October.”
The events reflect confidence in UAE's efforts and success to contain the global epidemic crisis after reaching a high social level that allowed it to start a safe return to life with stringent measures to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors.