Dubai's nurseries and early learning centres can open if they follow new rules
Staff must ensure toys and objects are carefully cleaned with child-friendly products.
Nurseries and early learning centres in Dubai will be allowed to reopen as soon as they can meet a list of safety measures, the city's education regulator said.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) announced the new rules as part of an ongoing effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
It followed a federal decision on August 27 that allowed centres for toddlers and young children, which remain closed since early March, to reopen.
The rules include mandatory changing of clothes by staff when they leave the nursery and return – and ensuring toys and objects are cleaned with mild but effective sanitisers.
Parents can expect the following measures to be in place in every centre in the city:
Arriving and leaving nursery
Temperature screening of anyone entering the centre will be mandatory.
Staff will be discouraged from leaving the premises during the day, and if they do so for emergency purposes, they will have to change clothes, mask and fully sanitise before returning.
Only one first degree family member is allowed to enter the centre to drop off and pick up their child. People above the age of 60 are not advised to do this, and management has to ensure staggered arrival and departure times.
Covid-19 tests for all staff
The centre will have to collect health and travel declaration forms from all children and staff.
All staff must take a Covid-19 PCR test and cannot enter the premises without a negative result.
Parents are required to check their children’s temperature with a thermometer and look for any symptoms before leaving the house. A ‘stay home if unwell’ policy must be followed for children, teachers and staff.
Anyone whose temperature equals or exceeds 37.5°C will not be allowed to enter. Authorities must be notified immediately if a person shows Covid-19 symptoms.
As with schools, nurseries must have an isolation room where a child could be comfortably placed until the authorities could arrive to check them.
Face masks for staff – but not for children under 6
All staff and visitors must wear masks at all times inside the facility. Children under the age of six do not have to wear masks.
Staff are encouraged to wear transparent masks where possible, to enable lip-reading and facial expressions. Face shields or visors can be worn without masks, if there is a two-metre distance between a staff member and child.
Stephen Haw sees off his sons Hugo, nine and Hector, seven at the gates of Brighton College in Abu Dhabi. All photos by Victor Besa / The National
Cleaning or disinfecting products with a ‘danger’ or ‘corrosive’ label warning are not allowed, to protect the children.
Anyone entering the building must wash and/or sanitise hands, but sanitisers should be kept out of children's reach.
Staff must oversee a strict hand washing regime for children, but avoid using sanitisers for those who have a tendency to lick their hands or suck on their fingers.
Staff and children’s bags and shoes should be cleaned and sprayed with sanitisers when they arrive at the centre.
Children with disabilities should be given extra support and attention where needed.
Toys, equipment, gadgets and play areas
Soft toys or other objects that are hard to clean must be removed.
All equipment in classrooms, including toys, books, scissors, pens, pencils, crayons, arts and crafts materials and messy play resources should be sanitised after every use.
Toys that are sneezed on, coughed on or put in a child's mouth should be taken away.
Staff should keep a designated bin for separating toys that have been exposed to children’s saliva.
It is recommended that children get their own stationary whenever possible.
Play areas such as dress-up sections and indoor soft play sections are not allowed to operate. Centres should avoid musical instruments and whistles.
As with schools, nurseries and creches should not provide any catering. Parents are asked to give their children enough snacks, lunches and plastic utensils for the whole day.
Centres can provide sanitised water bottles if needed.
Children should have their own food containers, food-sharing is not allowed and meal breaks should be staggered.
Staff and children ratios
Childcare must be carried out in ‘stable’ groups of maximum 10 or fewer children in separate rooms.
According to KHDA, ‘stable’ means the children have to remain in the same group each day and cannot mix with other groups. The same childcare provider should remain with the same group each day.
A physical distancing of 1.5 metres per child or person needs to be maintained.
For young children aged between six weeks and 23 months, each group can have maximum eight members with a minimum of two caregivers.
For those aged between two and six, the maximum number of children allowed in a group is 10, with at least two caregivers.
As with schools, buses can operate at 50 per cent, with social-distancing marks placed on seats. Temperature screening is mandatory before boarding the bus and a daily log of all passengers must be maintained.
The full list of protocols released by the KHDA is available here.