MUSCAT, 18 January — Schools in the Sultanate received their students on Sunday after a gap of 309 days amid caution and commitment to safety in an atmosphere of energy and vitality.
In all, 142,162 students of the integrated education system returned to classes physically in the wilayat and governorate schools after the long closure forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Muscat educational institutions received students of the first, fourth, fifth, ninth and eleventh grades, based on the decision of the Supreme Committee for the gradual return of students to the integrated education system according to specific operational procedure.
In order to adhere to the precautionary measures in schools, the manager of Ziyad bin Al Muhallab School in Al Dhahirah Governorate, Hamad Al Makhmari, followed with great care the implementation of precautionary measures on coronavirus.
In Al Buraimi Governorate, Al Senainah School said, “As part of the precautionary measures for the safety of its students, the school health nurse, Abla Al Shukri, implemented a hand-washing workshop for students of the first grade, and then the students followed what they had learned.”
The General Directorate for Education in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate said, “Students of schools are gradually returning to classes and they are taking precautionary measures through blended education.”
The General Directorate for Education in Musandam Governorate said, “The gradual return of students in the governorate schools according to the integrated education system for the first, fourth, fifth, ninth and eleventh grades began as a first stage.”
The General Directorate for Education in Dhofar Governorate said, “After 309 days, students of the distance education system in Dhofar Education gradually return to their classes according to the blended education system.”
An official from the Ministry of Education confirmed to the Times of Oman that the guardian of the student who does not agree to the presence of his son to study needs to sign the commitment form to teach him at home.
“The student’s guardian must sign a form pledging to teach him, as in the event that he does not receive education, the Ministry is responsible for that from a legal point of view as stipulated in international conventions, unless the guardian is the one who is responsible for that.”
Dr Abdullah bin Khamis Ambusaidi, the Undersecretary of Ministry of Education, said at the 21st press conference of the Supreme Committee in charge to deal with COVID-19, “We would like to assure everyone that not all students will go back to schools on Sunday. There will be a gradual return during the next week and time can make this transition happen in a safe and easy way.”
“Returning to school will be gradual and is subject to the epidemiological evaluation of the virus in the Sultanate. The vaccine will also be provided to individuals. The current health situation in the Sultanate is being evaluated.
“There are also other possible considerations, upon which decisions will be taken of either returning back to schools or continuing the blended learning for semester two. If the pandemic continues to exist, the conceived scenario is sticking to the blended learning. The face to face instruction will be held differently during the second semester of this academic year, in line with the epidemiological situation,” he added.
Dr. Ali bin Humaid Al Jahwari, the Director General of the General Directorate of Education of the Governorate of Muscat, said, “School buses are available and the Ministry has been ready for this step for a long time. Bus contracts have been signed since the beginning of last November. The school operation plans include the size of the required buses.”
Dr. Al Jahwari also said that the Ministry has requested, among the precautionary measures in buses, that the current capacity of each bus shall not exceed 50 per cent of its total capacity. Temperature measuring devices and sterilisers shall be provided in each bus.
“It’s important that school administrations meet the bus drivers to inform them of the health and preventive measures.”
The Supreme Committee in charge to deal with COVID-19 had decided to suspend studies in all educational institutions in the Sultanate of all levels on March 14, 2020, to limit the spread of coronavirus pandemic. — Times of Oman