Back to School
As another school year approaches, UAE authorities are preparing for a safe return to school for staff and students alike. Requirements vary by emirate and age group, so please so read on to find out what you will need to do to ensure a smooth (and safe!) start to the new academic year.
UAE authorities have described the rules for staff and pupils returning to school and nursery this coming September. There are some key differences by emirate and by age group, which we describe below.
Although the international travel industry is still reeling from the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, many UAE residents will have made overseas trips this summer. For adults returning to the UAE, a negative PCR is required within the 72 hours prior to your flight (UAE citizens are exempt from this requirement and will be tested on arrival). Children under the age of 12 do not need a PCR test to return to the UAE. Note: your airline or departure location may have different requirements, and you are advised to check well in advance of your trip.
Abu Dhabi: Back to School in the Capital
In Abu Dhabi, all staff and pupils over the age of 16 will be required to have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine before the start of the new term, and only vaccinated people will be allowed to enter Abu Dhabi public and private schools, nurseries and universities from 20th August. Some exemptions to the vaccination ruling are permitted. Again, these exemptions vary by emirate. In Abu Dhabi, exemptions are for:
1. those who are currently infected with COVID-19
2. participants of the vaccine’s clinical trials
3. pregnant women
4. those who were previously infected with COVID-19 (after medical evaluation)
5. those who received the COVID-19 vaccine outside the UAE
6. those who have experienced severe allergies to vaccines or components of vaccines or those who may have an illness that conflicts with the vaccine
7. children below the age of 16
Exemptions must be properly registered with the Ministry of Health and your exemption status must be reflected on the Al Hosn app.
There may be some differences to the requirements for those who have travelled overseas and are returning to school in Abu Dhabi. For the start of the 2020/21 academic year, all pupils over the age of 12 had to be tested for Covid-19 before they could return to school. In addition, pupils who had travelled overseas were advised to return two weeks prior to the beginning of the school year, in order to quarantine at home if necessary. It is not yet clear whether these rules will apply to the coming academic year.
Returning to School in Dubai
Parents of Dubai school children will now be familiar with completing the Dubai Health Authority travel declaration form online. These forms are issued and retained by your child’s school and are a mandatory requirement before returning to school.
For children who have travelled overseas, a negative PCR test is required, no more than 48 hours prior to their return to (on site) school. If a negative test is not produced, students will be required to study via distance learning for ten days from their date of arrival in Dubai.
Unlike neighboring Abu Dhabi, Dubai authorities do not require pupils to have been vaccinated to attend school.
Regulations for Dubai Teachers and School Staff
As for students, school staff in Dubai require a negative PCR test (taken within 48 hours of returning to school) if they have travelled overseas. Any member of staff who has taken a Covid-19 test on or after 20th August will be exempt from an additional test. Copies of test results must be presented to the school and all staff must complete the DHA travel declaration.
School staff in Dubai have been encouraged to take a Covid-19 vaccination. Any who choose not to do so (whilst still being eligible for the vaccine) must take a PCR test every seven days and present this to their school. This rule applies whether staff are working remotely (online) or in school and includes staff in early learning centers, schools, universities and training institutes. The rule does not apply during holiday periods.
The Rules for Dubai’s Nurseries and Early Childhood Centers
Similar to Dubai schools, parents of children returning to a Dubai nursery are required to complete a DHA travel declaration. Children are also required have a negative PCR test in the 48 hours before returning to nursery.
Should parents prefer for their young child not to have a PCR test, they can choose to quarantine for 10 days. Individual nurseries are permitted to extend this quarantine to 14 days, should they feel it necessary. The quarantine period must be repeated if the child’s parent or sibling (or household members) travels internationally, although this can be avoided if the household member shows a negative PCR within 48 hours prior to the child returning to nursery.
Sharjah: Rules for Students and Staff
The rules for returning to school in Sharjah are currently being revised by the relevant authorities. As it stands, the same rules as last year are in place with staff and pupils over the age of 12 required to take a PCR test before returning to school.
Although Sharjah authorities do not require a period of self-isolation prior to returning to school, some private schools in the emirate have asked their teachers to return to the country two weeks before start of school, in case quarantine becomes mandatory again.