Heavy rainfall forces some UAE private schools to extend distance learning

Several schools require more time due to damage caused by storm

Heavy rain caused flooding across the Emirates on Monday. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Several private schools in the UAE are to continue with distance learning on Tuesday after being affected by severe flooding caused by heavy rain that hit parts of the country.

It comes as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai on Monday evening urged all private schools, nurseries and universities to apply optional remote learning on Tuesday.

Some schools under Aldar Education, the largest school operator in Abu Dhabi, switched to online learning on Monday that will continue for a further day.

Dave Taylor, chief operating officer at Aldar Education, said the heavy rain affected several schools across the emirate.

“While our aim is to resume classes tomorrow, some schools require additional time to ensure full operational readiness,” he told The National.

“We are actively communicating with our parent community at each school to ensure a co-ordinated and smooth process.”

Mr Taylor said the recommendation from the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) was for pupils to study online, a move that has been beneficial in prioritising safety.

“Dedicated teams across our schools in Abu Dhabi are working tirelessly around the clock to ensure that facilities are safe and prepared to welcome back students as soon as possible,” he added.

Safety alerts were issued and speed limits cut as large parts of the UAE were lashed by heavy rain and hail on Monday morning.

Thunder rumbled and lightning streaked across the skies above Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the early hours as persistent heavy rain caused disruption across the Emirates.

The rain also caused flooding in some areas on Monday morning, including in Mira 1, Dubailand, where authorities were on site to clear excess water.

The National Centre of Meteorology has weather warnings in place for much of the country until noon on Tuesday.

It issued its most severe red alert – urging people to be extremely vigilant during hazardous weather – for some areas of Abu Dhabi.

While some schools were affected by damage and flooding caused by rain, a majority of pupils in the UAE will be able to return to classes for in-person learning on Tuesday.

Clean-up operation

But nursery and reception classes at the British School Al Khubairat will remain closed on Tuesday.

Mark Leppard, headteacher at the school, said that the school had been impacted by flooding.

“Our nursery and reception classes have been impacted mostly due to an external drain bursting and those classrooms will not be open on Tuesday,” he told The National.

“But we have a highly experienced maintenance team who have worked throughout last night and today to contain it and resolve the situation very quickly.

“Parents with children in those classes have been informed and we have kept ADEK up to date with the situation."

On Saturday, the KHDA in Dubai announced that due to unpredictable weather, all private schools, nurseries and universities in the emirate were allowed to move to online learning on Monday.

Gems Education schools were among those to do so and they will be able to continue on Tuesday if the wet weather persists.

“Due to the ongoing adverse weather continues across much of the UAE, those of our schools that are not currently on midterm break transitioned to online learning and remote working today, in line with the guidance issued by the relevant authorities,” Zafar Raja, group chief operation officer of Gems Education, told The National.

“Should there be a need or directive to continue with online learning on Tuesday as well, schools will communicate this to families in good time. All Gems Education schools have systems and protocols in place to ensure students can continue to learn remotely.”

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Updated: February 12, 2024, 4:46 PM