Muscat: Starting from Sunday, Grade 12 students will attend school every alternate week. While one group will study online from home, the other will attend school, the Ministry of Education has said.
HE Dr Abdullah bin Khamis Ambusaidi Undersecretary of Ministry of Education said, "So far, the statistics indicate that 82 per cent of the study will be through distance education, 10 per cent through blended education, and 7 per cent through physical attendance. We are observing the situation and the developments and there may be some changes later. As of now, the first cycle of students will be required to learn not all subjects, but focus on these subjects: Arabic language, Mathematics, English language and Islamic education."
Ambusaidi explained, "What concerns us is the issue of simultaneous learning, and we have asked the teachers, schools and the directorate to determine the appropriate timing by communicating with the parents of students. We have given flexibility for schools across the governorates to adopt simultaneous education, which requires the presence of a guardian with the student, and we have put in place facilities for that. However, the educational platform will remain open for parents around the clock to view and follow up their children's progress."
Regarding the mechanisms of operating private, international and international schools HE said, "Blended learning will be activated in private schools, taking into account students' attendance in grades 1-11 at a rate of (50-50%) or (33-33-33%), according to the school's capabilities, to achieve the required physical distancing and take all necessary precautions. As for the education of students in the twelfth grade, it is done through full school hours (100%) or according to the approved study plan in this regard."
"In the event that a guardian wants to educate his children in grades (1-12) in the distance education system at a rate of 100 per cent, as a result of feeling fear for their health from attending the school, there is no objection to that, provided that he submits the pledge and written consent to the school according to what is mentioned in the framework. In the event that the school is unable to provide educational services remotely, the guardian is notified of this, and he is left free to choose another private school that can provide this service to the student," he said, pointing out that the distance education scenario can be applied 100 per cent for grades 1-11 in the event of the school's electronic readiness and availability of the necessary capabilities.
The need for laptops
Ali Al Jahwari, the Director-General of Education at Muscat Governorate said, "Students at grades 11 and 12 do not require to have laptops as they can use online learning platforms through mobiles. Pupils at grades from 5 to 10 will be taught information technology subjects in two classes a month, and school children in small families may share and use the same device. Whereas grades 1-4 will be focusing on the theoretical part of information technology with the possibility to use mobile phones."
Dr Nasser Al Abri, Director-General for Information Technology, Ministry of Education added, "We affirm that all platforms adopted by the Ministry can function at all types of devices. In addition, the Ministry has an alternative scenario to ensure providing the learning content in case devices are not available at market."
Bus and school cleaning system:
Ali Al Jahwari said "The Ministry of Education has developed a manual for school operation, which includes procedures for the cleaning staff as well a framework for school bus drivers. The cleaning staff are not allowed to be at school during learning hours, the relevant preventive procedures will be in place and each worker will be assigned to a certain work area."
"For schools adopting blended learning the Ministry of Education has developed a set of preventive procedures for bus drivers and procedures that should be followed by school children while they are in buses. Students with high body temperature will not be allowed to sit in a school bus and the occupancy capacity for each bus will not exceed 50 per cent. " he added.
Dr Nasser Al Abri, Director-General of the Information Technology, Ministry of Education said, "The Ministry represented by the technical team sought to provide devices through the local suppliers and make suitable offers available (Omantel and Ooredoo) at varied affordable rates along with internet packages which suit all community segments."