The schools' new academic year 2020/2021 has started and students have started going back to school since 1 September, as announced by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) last month as Phase 4 of the gradual lifting of the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in Qatar.
- The Ministry of Public Health has carried out pre-emptive checks for all school personnel for coronavirus, and it has been found that more than 98% are free from infection.
- Parents must make sure that their kids wear a facemask and do not suffer from a high temperature before going to school.
- The Ministries of Education and Health are working on a plan to open schools safely, including sanitizing classrooms and maintaining a safe distance.
- The MoPH has identified preventive measures to limit the spread of coronavirus in schools.
- The Ministry said that it is necessary for students to attend the school as this is of great psychological and educational importance.
- The blended approach enabling children to return to school has been carefully planned with all the relevant authorities and all measures are being put in place by schools to ensure the safety of children and reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.
- Students must adhere to preventive measures in schools and report any event of a respiratory infection to one of their classmates.
- The MoEHE is sparing no effort in implementing the directives of the MoPH in preserving the safety of students and is taking all precautions as the commitment to precautionary measures is one of the duties of schools and colleges towards students.
- The Ministry said that the second round exams ended successfully and no cases of coronavirus were detected among the students.
- With a maximum of 30% of children in school each day, in addition to supporting preventive measures, the Ministry is confident that everything is in place to enable children to safely return to schools.
- MoEHE says that absence will not be counted for students during the first two weeks of the academic year, and the student will commit to distance education from home.
- The MoPH intends to conduct random checks on all students in the coming days and weeks, after parental consent is taken.
- Over 340,000 students will attend public and private schools for the upcoming academic year of 2020/21.
- 5 new public schools were opened which brings the total number of public schools and preschools to 283. Additionally, 145 new classrooms will be added to the existing public schools with a capacity of more than 3,600 seats to accommodate 124,700 students.
- 13 new private schools and kindergartens with a capacity of more than 7,600 seats were opened, which brings the total number of private schools and kindergartens to 334. This will accommodate nearly 215,000 students.
Random COVID-19 testing on students after parental consent
Random testing will be carried out on students, but only after getting consent from the parents who will be requested to sign a consent form prior to their children being tested. The random testing of students is a collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. This will enable the early detection of COVID-19 cases amongst students and will limit the spread of the virus in the school environment.
In a joint press conference (MopH and MoEHE) explaining the latest developments related to the coronavirus and returning to schools, it was announced that random tests of students will be done in the coming days.
Students using school buses
Mowasalat has geared up 2,400 school buses to transport students with the start of the new school year, with full implementation of precautionary and preventive measures, including daily sterilization of buses, temperature screening for students who are requiring to wear face masks to ensure the safety of students, which is Mowasalat's top priority, to provide them a safe journey to and from schools
Mowasalat is also providing awareness leaflets and videos for the safety of students and their families, and limit the spread of COVID-19, With full adherence to implementing social distancing while seated with the help of the school supervisor on the school bus.
Blended learning approach
The Ministry has decided to adopt a blended learning approach which will combine online learning and in-person teaching in the classroom for all stages of education across public and private schools, preschools and the higher education institutions:
- 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 specialised, 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.
If you have any queries regarding the blended learning approaching, check out our Q&A about schools reopening in Qatar (blended learning approach)
According to the Ministry, 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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