The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) announced changes to its previous three-phase back-to-school plan for the 2020/21 academic year. The new plan will apply blended learning during the first semester of the next academic year.
A combination of online and classroom-based learning will be implemented in all stages of education across public and private schools, preschools and the higher education institutions.
This move came after close coordination with the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) on the necessary precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as the virus infection rates in Qatar. It also aims to mitigate the academic consequences of the school closures and delay of the new academic year.
Based on the new approach, students will attend to school premises once or twice a week, with a maximum attendance rate of 30% of school capacity per day. This will allow students to attend basic classes and conduct laboratory experiments and tests.
To comply with the health and social distancing requirements, schools will need to break the students into groups of no more than 15 in each classroom. Desks must also be arranged to keep a safe distance of 1.5 meters between students in the classroom.
Distance learning will take place on the days when students do not attend to school as per the school schedule of each school.
According to the blended learning model, students will take the mid-semester and end-of-semester exams at school premises. Schools will be responsible for planning the exam schedules to ensure that physical distancing is maintained.
During the first three days (1-3 September), schools will introduce students to the precautionary measures that must be observed while on school campus. Preparatory and high school students will have to wear (cloth) face masks.It is important for all schools to
comply with the instructions issued by the Ministry's Health and Safety Department on COVID-19 precautionary measures. Relevant leaflets and brochures should be distributed to students and parents at the beginning of the academic year.
Moreover, schools should arrange to provide students with the rotational attendance schedules for the first semester. Distance and classroom-based learning days should be set out clearly in the schedules. Students should also be educated about the remote learning system and how to use it smoothly.
The entry and exit of students to school grounds must be organized to maintain physical distancing and avoid overcrowding. Morning assembly and group activities, including trips, camps, celebrations and the like, will be suspended and replaced with virtual events, where possible.
For specialized, technical, special needs and remote schools, where the total number of students amounts to 30% of the school capacity, students will attend in full capacity (100%) on a daily basis.
Exception from attending classes in school include students who suffer chronic diseases as supported by an approved medical report. Students whose parents suffer chronic conditions are also exempted from attending to school to avoid the possible transmission of infection. An approved medical certificate and national address certificate for the patient should be submitted to the school. The excepted students, however, must attend personally to school to take the main exams.
On the same note, the Ministry issued circular to the university presidents regarding the gradual attendance. According the circular, 30% of students will attend to campus daily from September to November, with the blended learning being deployed. Exam attendance will be considered in the assessment scores, as needed.
Universities are urged to take all COVID-19 protective measures and ensure that a minimum safe distance of 1.5 meters is maintained between students. Relevant comprehensive awareness for both students and employees should be initiated in coordination with the MOPH.