With strict adherence to Covid-19 protocol including vaccination, the academic year for Oman’s schools begins on Sunday following significant improvement in the epidemiological situation.
However, students will return to schools on September 19 with reduced classroom attendance. This will be supplemented with online classes. School buses will be capped to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
The schools, opening after a gap of almost 18 months, will initially be attended by teaching, supervisory administrative and information technology staff.
According to a statement from the Minister of Education, the academic year 2020-2021 for Oman’s schools will start on September 12, 2021 and end on July 7, 2022.
“Following the decision of the Supreme Committee in charge of tackling the Covid-19 situation in the Sultanate, supervisors in the educational directorates in all governorates, the Directorate General of Private Schools, the Directorate General of Special Education and teaching and administrative staff will begin work at the start of the academic year on September 12”, the statement said.
However, a few private schools including Al Shomoukh International School and colleges have already started welcoming students to their campuses following vaccination of students, teaching and administrative staff.
According to the ministry’s plan, grades 1 to 6 student will be operated by the blended education system.
Low-density schools, however, the number of students does not exceed 20 students to a class, will follow the direct education system where students attend classes on all school days.
The direct education system will be followed for grades 7 to 11. Schools with over 30 students to a class, however, will follow the blended education system while grade 12 students will be fully in person.
“The ministry will announce the specific mechanism for blended and direct education at a later date,” the ministry said.
Within the framework of the coordination that took place with the Ministry of Health on the plan to vaccinate staff of the teaching and administrative bodies and students from the age of 12 years and above a total of 305,530 students in the age group 12 to 17 years.
90 per cent of the total targeted number of 339,661 from public and private schools have been vaccinated as part of the national campaign for immunisation against Covid-19 in all governorates in the Sultanate.
At the same time, the total of the targeted vaccinators with one dose amounted to 277,381 at a rate of 81.6 per cent, while the total of those vaccinated with two doses amounted to 28,149, at 8.3 per cent.
However, some of the parents did appear to have different opinions with regard to the opening of the schools.
“Life has been slowly returning to normal in the country after a ferocious coronavirus surge again in the middle of this year grinding life to a halt. That trauma is still haunting us and we are apprehensive of our children’s safety,” said Sami al Wahaibi from Ruwi.
For Abdullah al Sulaimani, the simple answer is there is never a right time to do anything during the pandemic.
“There is a risk, but life has to go on – and you can’t go on without schools,” he said.