ABU DHABI: Schools across the United Arab Emirates are preparing for e-learning to continue in the September 2020 and potentially into next year.
Headteachers from the schools said they anticipated a mix of in-school classes and home learning in the first term of the 2020-21 academic year, but await an official announcement about the decision from the UAE government.
Taaleem and Gems Education, the country’s two largest private school groups, have just begun preparing for a “blended” model that would see groups of pupils and students could study at home and in school at the different times of a day.
On Sunday morning, the Ministry of Education of UAE said the end of e-learning and reopening of schools was “still under review” and would depend on ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier, a senior official from the ministry told an audience that authorities were looking at three scenarios for future schooling nationwide.
Speaking at a majlis event on Friday, Fawzia Gharib, assistant undersecretary at the ministry of education, said one condition was that e-learning from home would continue to account for 100 per cent of lessons.
The other two scenarios were based on a gradual return to normal classes – but neither had pupils and students in school classrooms 100 per cent of the time.
Last week, the government officials said all schools would be inspected this month to determine if e-learning was working and where their strengths and weaknesses lay upon.
Many headteachers said the exercise was a chance to step back and evaluate the past few months, but urged inspectors to understand the pressure that pupils, parents and teachers were under.
Under the best case scenario, and with the Covid-19 outbreak under control, pupils would do 70 per cent of their study in school and 30 per cent at home.
She anticipated about six months of this “transitional stage” before classes return to normal.
The ministry later stressed that “any decision for the academic year 2020-2021 is still under review and will be taken based on the health situation and precautionary measures”.
Since March, schools have used a combination of home assignments and live, online lessons with teachers to keep pupils up to date with their curriculum.
Temperature checks, masks and classes in gym halls
Alan Williamson, chief executive officer of Taaleem, which operates 13 schools in the UAE, said online learning would continue in some form into the 2020-2021 academic year.
“We will open in September but blended learning is likely to continue. A majority of schools will open to a majority of pupils,” Mr Williamson told The National on Sunday.
“Schools have been discussing the 70/30 option where schools will be open to 70 per cent of pupils at any point of time,”
“Everyone is looking to the totality of the curriculum reappearing in January 2021.”
Another possibility is that pupils will spend 70 per cent of their time at school, and 30 per cent of their time studying online.