As the date for the start of the new academic year approaches, the Ministry of Education has issued guidelines for private schools, including kindergartens. As per the decision No 54/2020 issued by the ministry, Dr Abdullah Khamis al Busaidy, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Education for Administrative and Financial Affairs, said the decision is based on the directives of the Supreme Committee on COVID-19, which confirmed the start of the academic year from November 1, following a blended curriculum with a focus on distance education.
The circular stated that the attendance of students from grades 1 to11 will be 50- 50 per cent or 33-33-33 per cent according to the capabilities of schools to achieve the required physical distancing guidelines by taking all necessary precautions and health measures. As for students of the 12th grade, it will be a proper and full traditional school hours (100 per cent) or by the weekly system as per the study plan. If the parents prefer to educate their children (Grades 1 to 12) completely through distance education system due to safety concerns, they have to submit a written application to the school in line with the general framework issued by the Ministry of Education. In the event the school is unable to provide services remotely, parents should be allowed to choose another private school which can provide such services to the students.
Distance education can be followed by 100 per cent for grades 1 to 11 in the event of the school’s electronic readiness and availability of necessary capabilities. As for children in the early education stage (kindergarten), they have to be taught only remotely, and in the absence of facilities to operate electronically, these schools/classes will not operate. “Schools which have not provided the ministry an operational plan will be not allowed to start operations by the ministry. These schools will be responsible for all legal consequences.” Considering the quality of Internet service in some governorates, some of the options include classes on TV channels or by providing students with study material loaded in flash drives.