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Monday, March 8, 2021

Concerns raised after COVID-19 cases detected just days into new academic year

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Despite schools reopening in Qatar just days ago, a number of COVID-19 cases have been detected among students.

On September 5, 2020, the International School of Choueifat Doha sent an announcement to parents that a COVID-19 case was detected in a grade 11 student, prompting the institution to swiftly transfer all classes for grades 10-12 online.

The parents of the student informed the school she had tested positive for COVID-19 on September 4, three days after first attending classes to mark the start of the new academic year, according to Joseph Salemeh, Director of International School of Choueifat Doha. 

The school said it followed official procedures and informed the COVID-19 hotline as well as the Ministry of Education. It was then instructed to ensure all teachers and those in contact with the infected student be tested and quarantined at home for the recommended two weeks. 

However, ISC Doha has continued with in-person classes for other levels. “As per ministry, you only deal with those who are in direct contact with positive cases and trace that,” Salameh told Doha News

In the same week, reports said some schools around Doha were expected to return to remote learning since the discovery of COVID-19 cases in teaching staff and students. The American Academy School at Al Thumama and Tariq Bin Ziyad School were among a number of schools to take up online learning.

But the latest developments come as no surprise, and experts have already warned over the premature reopening of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Around the world, schools have reversed their decision to conduct in-person classes within weeks of reopening. In France, 22 schools shut down only days after over 12 million students returned to school.

Read also: How schools in Qatar are implementing Blended Learning

Similar concerns were shared in Qatar with a number of parents taking to popular social media platform, Twitter, to vent their frustrations and disappointment. 

But despite the announced cases, authorities maintain precautions put in place by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public Health are enough to ensure the safety of students and staff at schools. Among the measures imposed are regular temperature checks, green status on the Ehteraz app, disinfection of all spaces within the institution, and the testing of all teachers and staff for COVID-19.

Responding to the latest development, the Chair of the National Strategic Group on COVID-19 and the Head of the Infectious Diseases Division at Hamad Medical Centre Abdulaziz Al-Khal said most teachers have been tested and results have been negative. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health has also announced it would conduct random COVID-19 tests on students in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

Are you worried about your children returning to school?


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