Muscat: Schools in the Middle East will need to implement a carefully planned and strategically phased approach while opening educational institutions in the post-Covid-19 scenario, said a management consulting firm.
While parents are concerned about the health safety of the children, there is little option but to adjust to the new situation.
Oliver Wyman said in its report ‘Re-opening Schools Post Covid-19, “The opening strategies must include a pre-opening, opening and post-opening framework and entail fundamental changes to logistics, processes, and procedures to ensure safety and a smooth opening of operations for school communities.”
Currently, the Ministry of Education in the UAE has confirmed its plan to reopen nurseries, schools, and universities in September is in place.
There will be strict protocols in place to ensure the premises are Covid-19-free. Bahrain has set September 16 for reopening schools in the country amid strict precautions.
Nurseries and creches can re-open in Qatar while other educational institutions will resume in September.
The Ministry of Education in Oman has said a number of committees have set up suitable mechanisms and solutions for a smooth educational process during the next academic year. “Any updates on these sides will be announced through our official channels, the ministry said.”
Schools and educational institutions were suspended in Oman from March 15.
“I’m in no rush for schools to open as I would not want to compromise on my child’s health. I respect all government decision and I know they are doing the best they can to curb the infection. We are all equipped with the necessary tools nowadays to ensure our kids have access to online education. It is time to accept the ‘new normal’ and move ahead with the changes rather than sitting down and complaining. If this is how our kids need to adapt, so be it. As the saying goes – the earlier children learn and adapt the better,” said Priya Avasthi, a parent based in Muscat.
Oliver Wyman said schools will need to train staff with enhanced roles for nurses, facilities managers, and counselors. Other preparatory activities include physical space and scenario planning in case of infection or a potential outbreak and procedures to ‘track, trace, and test’ pupils.
Nisha Kumar has this to say, “It is a dilemma. Children miss their interaction with teachers and classmates. They are catching up with online classes and the new way of schooling. Schools and students have coped well. But the question is how safe is it to go back to the typical school environment? As parents, we cannot help but worry. But they cannot stay secluded either. Children will have to be taught about the new norms.”
As part of the three-staged approach, policymakers and school planners receive communication in the opening and post-opening stages to ensure a successful experience for the children, teachers, parents, and the wider community. During these phases, there needs to be increased temperature checks at entry, enhanced sterilization and cleaning processes, along with the limiting the interaction with other students via improved physical layouts.