Kids are flooding hallways all over the world right as Delta drives pediatric hospitalizations to an all-time pandemic high. Some schools are opening, only to close. Tens of thousands of US students are already isolating or quarantining, squabbling over who needs to wear a mask and who doesn’t.
This all points to a school year that will likely be a mess yet again.
But in the UAE, schools are open and mandated not to accept most students without a proper PCR test.
Back to School UAE
A flurry of new COVID-19 testing regulations for UAE schoolchildren has had families queuing up at screening facilities across the UAE in the last few days ahead of school reopening last Sunday, August 29.
Parents said they have had to wait for long periods in order to get their children tested and asked for more centers to open, while others urged that PCR tests be organized in the schools themselves, weekly and monthly tests are required for certain children.
Tests, tests, and more PCR tests
Last week, the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) had made PCR tests mandatory for all children physically returning to school after the end of the summer break.
While children aged 12 years or more have to get PCR tests via nasal swab, students aged between four and 12 years are allowed to provide a saliva sample. The tests have to be conducted within 96 hours before school entry, which resulted in overcrowding at test centers.
Additionally, children need to be tested every 14 days for the first 30 days of schooling and then take a test every month. On the other hand, children aged at least 12 years and who are not yet fully vaccinated have to undergo PCR tests every week after the first month of schooling.
The requirements apply to all public and private schools, chartered schools, nurseries, day-care centers, universities, and training centers.
Only students enrolled in private schools in Dubai, regulated by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), as well as children aged less than 12 years at private schools in Sharjah regulated by the Sharjah Private Education Authority (Spea), need not undergo PCR tests before attending school in person. Naturally, children enrolled in full-time distance learning are also exempted.
According to Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), all teaching and learning in Dubai’s private schools will be in-person starting October 3, 2021.
After October 3, students who wish to continue with distance learning must provide a medical certificate issued by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).
Also, education sector employees would need to get both doses of the vaccine. The only exemption is those not eligible to get the vaccine on medical grounds. They would need to get an exemption report issued by official authorities in the UAE and must get a PCR test done every week.