Dubai school principal says teachers with Covid-19 not to blame for switch to e-learning

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Teachers should not be blamed for school closures linked to Covid-19 infections, a director from Dubai has said.

Sasha Crabb, principal of Victory Heights Elementary School, after criticism from some parents, said the spike in infections was not just linked to teachers.

At least 30 schools were closed for the start of the school year on Monday, including Victory Heights, and distance education has been temporarily reinstated. Education officials said the majority of schools have opened as planned.

Ms Crabb said she “deeply regrets” the decision, but believes there is a need to stem the spread of the virus.

We are aware that this is not the ideal solution for parents working from home, but we also felt that there was a need to take a break while people returned to Dubai, both staff and students.

Sasha Crabb, Victory Heights Elementary School

The number of cases has risen sharply across the country in recent weeks, from less than 50 in early December to 2,600 on Sunday, fueled by the infectious variant Omicron.

“I read some posts from parents on social media saying teachers should have been more responsible, teachers should have stayed in Dubai,” she said.

“There were a lot of last minute PCR tests, not only from people who traveled, but also from people who stayed in the UAE and struggled to retrieve the test results.

“It’s unfortunate, extremely unfortunate, but we had to do it because once we looked at the number of teachers and operating staff [with the virus], it was not going to be manageable for us to start the second trimester with face to face learning.

On Monday morning, she said 24 staff members had tested positive for the virus and many more were isolating themselves after being identified as close contact.

Speaking on Dubai Eye radio station, Crabb said 95% of the school community had “supported the decision to switch to e-learning” for the start of the new term.

Closing the circuit breaker ‘necessary’

“We had to look at the positive cases and the isolated cases and then find out what was best for us,” she said.

“It’s never something we want to do and it takes a lot of thinking to see what’s best.

“We realize this is not the ideal solution for parents working from home, but we also felt there was a need to take a break while people returned to Dubai, both staff and students.

“I can understand why the parents reacted because it’s frustrating, it’s an unfortunate decision [to close], but I don’t think at all that the teachers should have stayed in Dubai and isolated over Christmas in order not to contract Covid. “

Ms Crabb, who herself tested positive for the virus while in Dubai for the winter break, said there was a “myriad of evidence” that led to the decision to move to distance education.

“The teachers weren’t irresponsible, unfortunately that’s just the nature of the pandemic, but I sympathize with the parents because it’s a lot to take.”

On Sunday evening, more than two dozen schools in Dubai sent notices to parents informing them of a switch to distance education for the first days of the new term.

The decision was made due to the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the community.

Gems Education, which operates 28 schools in Dubai, said cases had been detected during extensive testing and made the decision to close the doors of 26 of its schools on Monday.

Mohammed Darwish, director general of permits and compliance at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, Dubai’s private education regulator, said the well-being of all members of the school population is paramount.

“We are grateful to our educational community for their resilience and support, and we remain focused on the well-being of families and school staff during this time,” he said.

“Comprehensive health and safety protocols remain in place for all private schools in Dubai.

“We work closely with each school to ensure that these protocols are followed and that teaching and learning continues. “

Updated: January 3, 2022 9:49 am


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