Country’s robust vaccination drive has boosted confidence in the education sector
A few schools in the UAE have started resuming socially-distanced onsite Parent Teacher Meetings (PTMs) following the resumption of in-person internal exams.
Head teachers are of the opinion the country’s robust vaccination drive has boosted confidence in the education sector.
Dr Brian Gray, Principal Springdales School, Dubai says, “We are taking Covid-19 head on. We conducted our Parent-Teacher meetings on-site at the school campus on May 27, 2021, just as it was before the pandemic. We are trying to send a message to our community that we are closer to the end of Covid-19 restrictions than we are to the beginning of the restrictions. It is important to us that parents start thinking that the school is open and is operating as usual with social distancing and safety in place. Nobody cares more about the wellbeing of our students than us.”
“What we do know is that student wellbeing extends to both the academic performance and the social needs of our young people in equal part to the physical safety requirements. For us this is one forward step in a series of forward steps we are taking to get our communities’ lives back to a post Covid normal”, adds Dr Gray.
Some schools have given parents the option to choose between onsite and online parent teacher conferences.
Sarah O’Regan, Principal/CEO at GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, said, “At the school we have given parents the option. They can have face-to-face (social-distanced with masks) meetings with our vaccinated staff. They can also choose to do online meetings. However, most of the parents have asked for online meetings as it’s more convenient for them.”
Meanwhile, other institutions are holding parent-teacher conferences physically, with a select few students, who require greater attention and parental involvement to help the students thrive.
Even parents of students who will be attending board exams, called in with their wards to allay their fears and instill optimism.
Arogya Reddy, Principal, Ambassador School Sharjah said, “We are conducting in-person PTMs with 10-15 per cent of our parents. During face-to-face meetings the level of empathy and a positive body language that can be conveyed, cannot be equalled during virtual meetings. Therefore, parents who are invited to the school are essentially parents whose children require greater care, say for students with any learning disabilities. or if a teacher notices that some student has constantly appeared distracted during online class or has kept the camera off and has been unresponsive despite repeated reminders.”
He adds, “Children, these days are also turning to online gaming in view of the confinement that they are experiencing due to Covid-19. Sometimes, schools are able to gauge this. So, parents of such students, along with their wards are calling for onsite meetings. Otherwise, if parents approach us directly, even they are called for a chat. Providing flexibility to parents, our school gives a window of one week for any kind of PTMs – be it online or onsite.”
Some principals said they will consider in-person parent teacher meetings once schools reopen after the summer break in the new academic year.
Simon Jodrell, Principal, Dubai British School, Emirates Hills says, “With just over five weeks to go of this academic year at DS EH we have no plans to change from online to onsite parent meetings. We are confident and comfortable with the style of presentations, meetings and workshops we have run this year. For the coming academic year, we will review in light of any further updated guidance provided by the regulatory bodies to ensure the safety of all.”