Requiring private schools in Abu Dhabi to monitor the mental health of students and teachers

School plans to combat the social stigma of “Corona”

  • Schools are required to develop a plan to ensure the safety of staff and students.

    Photography: Eric Arrasas

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The Department of Education and Knowledge called on private schools operating in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to prepare a policy to combat social stigma, and to develop strategies for awareness campaigns of misconceptions about the "Covid-19" virus.

She called on schools to maintain “as much as possible” the privacy and confidentiality of suspected or confirmed cases of “Corona” within the school community, and to remind others not to act in negative ways that lead to wounding the feelings of the person concerned, as a result of avoiding and staying away from him because of the stone, in addition to the necessity Disseminate the policy of combating social stigma to students, parents and employees, and encourage them to always act in appropriate ways.

The department urged schools to develop a plan, in cooperation with school counselors, to ensure the safety of staff and students, especially that some staff and students may suffer at a certain stage with some symptoms, due to quarantine, social isolation, or the loss of some close people.

It recommended schools to provide appropriate resources and references to support the entire school community in dealing with mental health problems, and urged them to implement intervention plans that focus on treating the mental and physical health of employees, and respecting workloads and professional development requirements.

She pointed out the need for counselors and health and safety support staff to have the necessary knowledge of how to deal with students of determination, and to understand their unusual circumstances, "these students may be more vulnerable psychologically and emotionally than others, due to the events of (Covid-19), what It negatively affects their mental health.

She said: “In the event that the counselors do not have sufficient training, knowledge and experience to deal with students of determination and communicate with them, they must use the expertise of faculty members who are familiar with the students’ needs, without affecting their privacy, and if it is not possible to obtain support from within the school due to the specifics of Students, counselors should seek advice from other professionals while preserving the student’s privacy.”

The department stressed that distance education does not mean increasing the teaching burden on teachers, and the teacher’s teaching burden can be managed effectively by diversifying distance education patterns, noting the need for teachers to be given sufficient time outside teaching times, to allow them to complete other activities, such as preparing plans Lessons, marking and grading, administrative tasks, etc., within the usual workload.

She pointed out the need for the school to inform the students' families and remind them of the appropriate channels for communicating with teachers, in addition to the appropriate times and schedules to anticipate responses from teachers.

She also stressed the need for schools to continue to provide teachers with the minimum professional development of 25 hours per year, in addition to continuing to provide them with professional development programs in the areas of online learning, the use of e-learning tools, electronic security, and support for the psychological and mental health and safety of students.

The department stressed the need for private schools to review the current child protection policies, to add any risks identified in the school's risk assessment form, noting the need to provide resources and organize awareness campaigns to educate students about cyberbullying (whether as a victim or vice versa), ways to protect and stop bullying.

She pointed out that teachers play an important role in providing support to students and ensuring their safety during distance education.

She added: "The school must provide the necessary resources to ensure the safety and well-being of teachers in the first place, implement child protection policies, identify the social and psychological needs of students, and support them through strategies to deal with anxiety and stress resulting from the pandemic."

She pointed out the need for schools to establish policies and procedures for participation and communication via the Internet, the safe use of available technology, and its sharing with parents, students and employees, and to develop a set of procedures to be followed for the purpose of immediate reporting and response to any misuse of technology that is discovered or any inappropriate behavior during electronic sessions, stressing “Schools are obligated to report to the Child Protection Center any suspected or confirmed cases of child abuse, whether at home or at school.”

Education and knowledge:

• "Distance education does not mean increasing the teaching burden on teachers."

• The Department requested organizing campaigns to educate students about cyberbullying.

• Schools are obligated to report suspected and confirmed cases of child abuse.

• 25 hours of compulsory teacher training annually.

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