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Posted On: 20 August 2020 12:24 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 09:12 am

[FURTHER UPDATE] Ministry amends back to school plan to adopt blended learning

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FURTHER UPDATE: August 23, 2020

The Ministry of Education and Further Education has announced a hotline 155 for parents and students to answer any queries they may have related to the blended learning approach when schools start in September, according to the Gulf Times.

UPDATE: UPDATE: August 20, 2020

ILQ got in touch with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and the Ministry of Public Health and this is the additional information we got:

  • Explaining that school management will be sending text messages to parents well ahead of the start of school, which includes the days allocated for their children to visit schools during the first three days, as well as the timings of daily school attendance.
  • Text messages will also emphasize the importance of school attendance, noting that the attendance and absence policy will be implemented.
  • Some levels will be assigned two days a week to attend schools and other classes will be assigned one day a week, according to educational priorities.

School attendance during weekdays:

  • Explaining that school starts at 7:15 am and finishes at 12:30 pm.
  • School schedules will include 6 classes per day of 45 minutes each, with a five-minute break between classes.
  • School day will include a 25-minute break. School schedules include three different timings for breaks to reduce the number of students on a single break.
  • As for kindergartens, usual daily schedules will be applied during school days, with school start times of 7:10 am and end times of 12:00 pm.
  • It is important that open spaces in schools are utilized, such as parade grounds, school theatres, laboratories, and art rooms which can be transformed into open classes to allow for social distancing.

Remote learning as part of implementing the blended learning system:

  • Using MS Teams for remote learning.
  • Making recorded lessons for all classes available via remote learning channels on YouTube.
  • Making weekly classes and weekly evaluations for each course available for students for one week from the upload date.
  • Uploading digital textbooks (PDFs and interactive books) to the allocated channels.

The Ministry also stressed that when initially discussing these points and the measures, it is important to always emphasize that these measures are subject to continuous review given the current circumstances and are subject to change according to any developments related to the spread of the virus.

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    The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) decided to make amendments to the previously announced back-to-school plan for the 2020/21 academic year. The new plan features the incorporation of the blended learning approach during the first semester of the upcoming year.

    A combination of online and classroom-based learning will be implemented in all stages of education across public and private schools, preschools and the higher education institutions.

    This move came after close coordination with the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) on the necessary precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as the virus infection rates in Qatar. It also aims to mitigate the academic consequences of the school closures and delay of the new academic year.

    Based on the new approach:

    • Students will attend school premises once or twice a week, with a maximum attendance rate of 30% of school capacity per day. This will allow students to attend basic classes and conduct laboratory experiments and tests.
    • To comply with the health and social distancing requirements, schools will need to break the students into groups of no more than 15 in each classroom. Desks must also be arranged to keep a safe distance of 1.5 meters between students in the classroom.
    • Distance learning will take place on the days when students do not attend school as per the school schedule of each school.
    • According to the blended learning model, students will take the mid-semester and end-of-semester exams at school premises. Schools will be responsible for planning the exam schedules to ensure that physical distancing is maintained.
    • During the first three days (1-3 September), schools will introduce students to the precautionary measures that must be observed while on the school campus.
    • Preparatory and high school students will have to wear (cloth) face masks.
    • It is important for all schools to comply with the instructions issued by the Ministry's Health and Safety Department on COVID-19 precautionary measures. Relevant leaflets and brochures should be distributed to students and parents at the beginning of the academic year.
    • Moreover, schools should arrange to provide students with rotational attendance schedules for the first semester. Distance and classroom-based learning days should be set out clearly in the schedules. Students should also be educated about the remote learning system and how to use it smoothly.
    • The entry and exit of students to school grounds must be organized to maintain physical distancing and avoid overcrowding.
    • Morning assembly and group activities, including trips, camps, celebrations and the like, will be suspended and replaced with virtual events, where possible.
    • For specialized, technical, special needs and remote schools, where the total number of students amounts to 30% of the school capacity, students will attend in full capacity (100%) on a daily basis.

    Exemption:

    Exception from attending classes in school include students who suffer chronic diseases as supported by an approved medical report. Students whose parents suffer from chronic conditions are also exempted from attending school to avoid the possible transmission of infection. An approved medical certificate and national address certificate for the patient should be submitted to the school. The excepted students, however, must attend personally to school to take the main exams.

    University students:

    On the same note, the Ministry issued circular to the university presidents regarding the gradual attendance. According to the circular, 30% of students will attend to campus daily from September to November, with the blended learning being deployed. Exam attendance will be considered in the assessment scores, as needed.

    Universities are urged to take all COVID-19 protective measures and ensure that a minimum safe distance of 1.5 meters is maintained between students. Relevant comprehensive awareness for both students and employees should be initiated in coordination with the MOPH.

    Source: Ministry of Education and Higher Education