UPDATES AND EVENTS FOR OUR DAA COMMUNITY
August 13, 2020
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Dear DAA Families,
This week our Senior Leadership Team returned and are intently working on all of the preparations for our students’ return on August 30th. We did begin this week with some time for a Leadership Retreat and to further our own learning. The theme - Navigating the Sea of Change - seemed appropriate given the new challenges and opportunities we are facing in education. As a group that is deeply dedicated to our students and staff success, we know that we need all oars rowing in the same direction.
Our new teachers begin their induction week on Sunday and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Leopard’s Den. We had our lowest turnover in staff this year and are thrilled to welcome back 5 former DAA high school teachers!
Thank you to the 2,626 responses to our survey stating your preference for our blended or 100% remote learning model when school begins on August 30th. From these responses, 2,187 students have selected the blended model and 439 have selected to be 100% remote learning. Students on the home learning schedule or who have opted for 100% remote learning are expected to be online and engaged in the live sessions during school hours.
The Leadership is still finalizing the A and B student groupings. This is an enormous task and we will be able to share your child’s group by next week.
Following this letter, we have included the questions and answers from my August 5th letter, and have added new questions based on our feedback tracker, in our continuous effort to respond to the additional questions we have received.
My very best,
Looking ahead 2020-2021 - FAQs
Will students be required to quarantine if they have traveled back from summer holiday?
We will follow the guidelines stipulated by the Dubai Authorities regarding quarantine or testing of students prior to returning to school. Should we receive a directive in this regard, we will notify our community and abide by mandates as directed by the authorities.
However, all families will be required to complete a health and travel declaration form. The form will be sent to families next week and must be submitted to our health office prior to the start of the academic year.
Why isn’t a 100% return of all students an option?
As per the KHDA Protocols for the Reopening Private Schools in Dubai, the classroom area should support sufficient room for groups to maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5 meters per child in each classroom provided everyone wears a mask. Student ratios will vary depending on the size of the classroom. The school will have the liberty to decide on the number of students per class as long as a safe distance of at least 1.5 meters per child or person is maintained.
Following a review of our facilities, in order to align with the above directives, this means that most of our classrooms can only accommodate approximately 13 students.
How will new students be welcomed with the blended learning model?
Orientation is planned for our new students to DAA with an opportunity to attend and tour the school. Given the Covid-19 restrictions, the on-campus orientation this year will be only for students. We will plan virtual orientation and on-boarding sessions for parents separately. More information will be shared with our new families directly from our divisional principals on the timing and agenda for orientation.
I have children in different divisions, will the school keep them in the same cohort?
We will do our best in order to keep siblings in the same cohort in order to minimize commute and scheduling conflicts for families. Once the A/B Groupings are determined, these will be final.
What if my child has a sore throat or is not feeling well?
A policy of “staying at home if unwell” for students, teachers or school staff with symptoms will be enforced. We encourage you to check your child’s temperature before leaving home and to keep them at home if they are displaying any symptoms that can qualify them as a suspected case of Covid-19.
· Runny nose
· Cough / sneezing
· Throat pain
· Body aches
· Chest pain or difficulty of breathing (Please seek urgent medical advice from your nearest health care facility)
Please review our Health Clinic Covid-19 Guidelines HERE.
How will students change for PE?
The regulations state that all changing rooms will be closed. Therefore, on PE days, students will wear their PE kit to school and remain in their PE uniform all day. Please wait for instructions on when this will begin, as we determine which units of study will be taught.
Will sports teams function and tryouts begin in the first term?
The tentative plans are to follow a phased-in approach to introduce athletics and activities into the program. The first phase, by mid-September will begin with virtual activities and individual sports camps focusing on skills. Additional phases to allow for competitive and recreational Intramurals and teams will follow as determined and directed by the regulatory authorities.
Are you offering discounts this year?
The GEMS Covid Relief Program was offered for term 3 of last year and there is no additional program for this year. There were no increases to tuition for the 2020-2021 school year. Our finance team will work closely with families on a payment plan if you are unable to make payments on the 3 term payment schedule of Sept 1, 2020 –Term 1/ Jan 1, 2021 – Term 2/ Apr 1, 2021 – Term 3.
A 4.25% discount is available if tuition is paid before August 20th with the GEMS FAB Card. If full tuition fees are paid via any other means (Cash/credit card/Bank transfer/school counter) before 20th of August, a 4% discount is available.
More information on payment options and discounts can be found here.
Will prayer rooms be available for students?
As per the KHDA Protocols for the Reopening Private Schools in Dubai, Prayer rooms should remain closed, unless the government is allowing prayer rooms to open across the different facilities in Dubai. We will monitor the advice from the authorities and make prayer rooms available as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
Can I drop off my child in the classroom or wait for him/her in the lobby after school?
As per the KHDA Protocols for the Reopening Private Schools in Dubai, only one family member or guardian is allowed to enter the school premises for drop off/pick up of his/her child. People with compromised medical conditions, including the elderly, should not come for drop off and pick up. Families drop off and pick up at one designated area and designated timings with no interaction inside the school. There should be no access to the rest of the school premises by family members and visitors. Family members should be given a maximum time limit of 10 minutes in the designated area to pick up / drop off with no crowding, maintenance of a 2 meters distancing, and wearing masks at all times. Meetings are encouraged to take place online, unless there is a critical need for one to one meeting which should take place on an appointment by email basis and will need to be made and approved beforehand.
In accordance with the KHDA directives above, we ask that parents please drop off and pick up at the designated entry zones as identified on the School MAP and at the designated times for your child’s division. Wearing a mask, social distancing, and not congregating for more than ten minutes will protect the health and safety of the entire community. If you require a meeting with your child’s teacher or administration, please contact them directly via email to make arrangements for an on-line conference.
When will my child attend school?
The first day of school will be August 30th either on campus or in remote learning depending on the grouping of the students. Orientation for new students to DAA will take place on August 26th (for High School) and August 27th (for Elementary and Middle School). More detail will follow in the coming weeks.
In order to comply with all social distancing measures, classrooms can accommodate students at 50% occupancy. Therefore, we will be dividing the classes (grades 1-12) into two cohorts - A group and B group. The rotation schedule will function as follows:
Week 1 - Sunday to Thursday AABBA.
Week 2 - Sunday to Thursday BBAAB.
As per the regulations, KG1 and KG2 can have no more than 10 students in each classroom. This coupled with the difficulty with the level of independence for remote learning, all KG1 and KG2 students will be in every day. Classes will operate between two classrooms with the teachers and teacher’s assistant rotating with the groups.
What will it look like when my child is not in the classroom?
The group not in school will access learning online through the use of webcams and numerous platforms used during remote learning. We have learned so much during our experience from March to June, and have taken that knowledge to further refine and enhance the remote provision. This summer we have installed over 230 webcams in the classrooms. This tool will allow students to experience the classroom environment, as well as work independently as directed by the learning plan.
What will be the school timings?
In order to minimize overcrowding during entry and exit times, a staggered timing has been set.
How will students enter the campus?
Upon arrival at school, students will pass through a number of designated entrance
points. The entrance points will be fitted with 4 thermal imaging cameras, which will
record each student and staff member’s temperature so it is imperative that all students use designated entry points.
A designated and trained security guard will monitor the system throughout the day. A process is in place to manage any students identified with a temperature greater than 37.5 degrees Celsius.
Kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2 students will access the campus through Gate 1, and a thermal scanner will be set up at the Early Years reception area. Grades 3, 4 and 5 will access the campus through Gate 5 and will pass through a thermal scanner set up at the ground floor access door adjacent to the soccer pitch. Similarly, bus students will have their temperatures checked before getting on the bus and again before accessing the building.
Middle School students will enter through Gate 3. There will be a temperature scanner at the Gate 3 entrance into the building, next to the health clinic.
Students will be dropped off and picked up at the Pedestrian Gate fitted with a thermal camera where temperatures will be checked. If a car is not waiting outside Gate 3 for pick up, the student will then walk to his/her vehicle.
Anyone with a temperature of 37.5 will not be allowed entry. These students will be taken to a dedicated medical room within the school, where further temperature and medical checks will be made, and families subsequently notified.
Families are to drop off and pick up at designated areas only in designated timings with no interaction inside the school. There will be no access to the rest of the school premises by family members or visitors. Family members are given a maximum time limit of 10 minutes in the designated area to pick up / drop off with no crowding, maintenance of a 2 meters distance, and wearing masks at all times.
What protocols are in place to ensure the safety of our learning community?
The GEMS health and safety department has established a robust set of health, safety and operational procedures and protocols, in order to support the safe reopening of schools. Quality assurance checks will also be conducted to monitor the effectiveness.
Desks will be set at a safe distance apart of 1.5 meters, and physical markings will be used in classrooms to ensure desks remain in the correct locations. Teachers will be positioned at the front of the classroom area, at a distance of 1.5 meters from the front row desks.
Safety markings will be set up throughout corridors, the markings will dictate safe distances of 2 meters. Students will be monitored to ensure adherence. One-way pedestrian flows will be required and will be marked out accordingly.
Seating arrangements will be clearly marked out in canteen areas, no students will be permitted to sit directly adjacent or next to one another. Students from the same class must adhere to 1.5 meter safe distances, students from different classes must maintain 2 meter safe distances.
Schools will operate pre-packed lunch service, with no live cooking taking place at school. Students are also permitted to bring their own food from home. Water dispensers are not permitted to be used.
Will students and staff wear masks?
Teachers and students above the age of 6 are required to wear face masks. Face masks can be removed during strenuous physical activity. Face shields can be worn for those employees who are in direct contact with students. It is suggested that students bring two disposable masks to school per day or one reusable option. It will be the responsibility of the students to ensure that they bring the required number of masks each day and ensure any reusable masks are washed in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
What training will the staff have before school opens?
All staff will undergo specific Covid-19 training prior to the start of the new academic year. In addition, teachers will regularly communicate and provide information to students on the associated risks, safe practices and controls. All students will be briefed on this plan prior to the start of the academic year.
What are the cleaning and hygiene procedures?
Our school has conducted a review of all potential frequent touch points, including, door handles, light switches, handrails, taps and washbasins, etc. Increased cleaning and sanitization will be conducted across these areas throughout the duration of the day. A thorough cleaning of the school will be conducted each day by an approved vendor, using approved Municipality chemicals. A thorough deep clean and sanitization of the school will be conducted at the end of each week. Cleaning staff will wear the required PPE for all cleaning activities.
In the event there is a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case, how will it be handled?
Managing a potential Covid-19 case in school
If a student is suspected of being a positive Covid-19 case, they will be immediately
removed to the school isolation room. Only the school medical and emergency services team are permitted to enter the isolation room and full PPE must be worn when entering the room. The students’ parents will be contacted immediately by the school doctor and the required authorities will be notified. The school will strictly adhere to the health authority requirements for managing and transferring any suspected cases of Covid-19. All areas which may have been accessed will be thoroughly deep cleaned and sanitized following any suspected cases. These areas will be closed immediately until the deep clean is completed. Tracing will be conducted to identify those who may have come into contact with the student or staff member. Health authority requirements will be strictly adhered to. This may include additional testing and isolation of persons who have come into contact with a positive case. Each school will have a detailed medical procedure plan in place, which will detail the emergency procedures for each school. This will be developed in consultation with the GEMS Senior Medical Supervisor and school medical teams.
Managing a confirmed case
A confirmed case could be in the form of a student, staff member or contractor. In such cases the person will be in isolation for a period of time, this may be at home or in a medical facility. Upon receiving notification of a confirmed case, a tracing exercise will be conducted by the school. This will identify all other persons who may have come into contact with the positive case.
Any persons who have come into close contact with the confirmed positive case will be sent home from school immediately, with a potential isolation period of 14 days. Further advice from the authorities, including the health authority and education authority, will be required on this aspect. No persons who have tested positive will be permitted to return to school without first providing evidence of a negative test result, in line with authority requirements. All relevant areas will undergo a thorough deep clean and sanitization exercise.
Communication of a confirmed case
It is important that parents are provided with suitable information regarding confirmed cases within the school. It is also vital that people’s individual privacy is maintained.
Parents will be notified when there is a positive case to a class member or class teacher. The required procedures will be followed for notifying the authorities. A detailed GEMS medical manual has been developed and the manual complies with UAE health authority requirements.
Will school buses operate?
Bus routes will be revised based on the demand of parents wishing to continue to use bus transportation and to accommodate the new staggered start times.
- All temperatures are taken at the pick-up points and any cases will be documented and notified to the relevant parties
- Daily records will be maintained
- Bus will be disinfected before and after each use
- Adequate signage will be placed inside the bus
- Procedures are in place should a child display signs of COVID 19 while in the bus
- Marking will be on the seats for guidance
What will be the communication channels for families?
Our bi-weekly SPOTS newsletter is our primary communication channel.
A divisional weekly communication will be published and will focus on both academic and health/safety updates. Homeroom teachers will continue to use Seesaw as a communication platform for both students and parents.
A grade level newsletter is sent to all MS parents via the Heads of Grade every Thursday, which focuses on student wellbeing, celebrations, and the learning and assessments across each discipline.
A bi-weekly SPOTS newsletter is sent via DAA’s Parent Relations Executive with a message from the Principal, accompanied by any important updates and highlights to be shared with parents.
Any brief reminders will be sent as needed via SMS through DAA’s Parent Relations Executive.
CAMPUS ROUTE GUIDANCE AND FLOOR UPDATED FLOORPLANS
Pay full year tuition fees on or before 20th Aug 2020, and avail 4% discount on applicable fees of academic year 2020 21.
Please contact email@example.com for details.
Slices, our catering service provider offers various lunch options for students. A cashless system is implemented on campus. You can register your child for a Slices account by visiting https://pay.slices.ae/.
Slices, our school lunch service provider will operate as we begin the year. Parents of students in Elementary (Grades KG - 5) will be able to use an online ordering system. The food will be delivered to the students in their classroom.
Students in Middle (G.6-8) and High School (G.9-12) will also be able to purchase from the Slices Canteen using a cashless system. Buffet and live stations for food are currently suspended. Slices will be offering pre-packed items for consumption.
For more guidance on Slices, including contact information and menus, please find the links below:
Slices - Middle/High School Parent Guide (G.6-12)
For more information, please look through the Frequently Asked Questions.
Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Ms. Shevine at 054 792 7509
Technical issues can be processed through the Slices Support ticket page: https://support.slices.ae/
We're In this Together DAA!
STAY CONNECTED VIA SOCIAL!
HEALTHhealthoffice_daa@Gemsedu.com / 04 704 9761
PARENT RELATIONSHilda Tabrizi email@example.com
GOVERNMENT RELATIONSSoheir Mohamed S.MOHAMED_DAA@gemsedu.com
SLICES CATERINGMs. Shevine firstname.lastname@example.org / 054 792 7509https://pay.slices.ae/support/ticket/submit
STS BUS SERVICEKelvin Sicat email@example.com / 04 704 9755