The Ministry of Education and Higher Education will ensure that schools adhere to precautionary measures as exam season begins.
With midterm exams for students from grades 1 to 11 starting on February 24, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education [MoEHE] has ramped up its monitoring to ensure schools are implementing and adhering to Covid-19 precautionary measures.
“Inspection teams from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) have intensified monitoring in schools to ensure the implementation of Covid-19 measures,” said Adviser to the education minister Mohamad Al Bashri in a Qatar Radio programme on Sunday.
Changes were made in the exam schedule due to the ongoing pandemic, he said, including just 15 students in a classroom and 60 in gym halls to ensure social distancing is adhered to.
“The Covid-19 tests are being conducted daily in schools. As per the statistics, the infection rate of Covid-19 in schools in the previous semester was 0.07 percent,” he added.
Further action will be taken to close schools if this infection rate increased to 5 percent, he added.
Schools resumed in person attendance in November as part of a nationwide blended learning system that was rolled out by the ministry.
As part of the measures, all public and private schools were obligated follow specific measures, including dividing the total number of classes with a maximum of 15 students in each class and leaving a distance of 1.5 meters between each person.
Other precautionary measures included mandatory wearing of masks and organised entry and exit of students to the school building to prevent crowding.
However, in February, a number of schools were shut down for violating these precautions.
“Some schools have been temporarily closed and classes were diverted online, as per the protocol followed by the Ministry of Public Health,” said Al Bashri in an interview with the Qatar-based channel Al-Rayyan this month.
This was due to the presence of Covid-19 cases among students and teaching staff, which was blamed on schools failing to apply precautionary measures, according to Al Bashri.
Last week, health authorities expanded the vaccine campaign with the opening of a new vaccination centre at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) dedicated for teaching and administrative staff. This is to ensure a safe flow of blended learning throughout the ongoing academic term, authorities said.
In an interview with Doha News, Chair of the National Health Strategic Group on Covid-19 and Head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation Dr. Abdullatif Al Khal revealed that the new centre aims to vaccinate “most or all teachers” in the next four weeks, with 8,000 shots expected to be given out per day.
“The vaccine at QNCC is intended for specific groups on a priority basis. The current stage targets the teaching and administrative staff in schools for their own safety and the safety of our students,” said the MoPH.
Once all educators have been vaccinated, the centre will be open to other essential workers.
Surge in cases
Latest figures show more than 100,000 shots have been given since the start of the inoculation programme.
On Sunday, health authorities reported 459 Covid-19 positive cases, bumping the total number of current active cases to 9,950.
In response to a rising number of daily cases since the start of the year, Qatar implemented a 32-point plan earlier this month to stem the spread of the virus.