How can parents contact SPEA if they have any questions related to private schools’ delivery of distance education program?
We would encourage parents to contact the schools in the first instance. For further questions or inquiries, please contact SPEA on: +971 6 8041444, info@spea.shj.ae  We are available from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, from Sunday to Thursday. SPEA advises parents to follow SPEA’s website and social media accounts for all official announcements @shjspea

Does the school closure have any impact on summer holidays?
No, the dates of summer holidays remain unchanged.

How long will Distance Learning continue?
According to the decree issued by the UAE Ministry of Education on March 30th, 2020 Distance Learning will continue until the end of the academic year for schools which started in September 2019. For schools that started their academic year in April 2020, Distance Learning will continue until the end of the first semester 2020.

Can I transfer my child to another school for Term 3?
No, a transfer is not permitted at this time. Schools are not currently able to assess new students, and are unable to offer places until the new academic year. Parents are encouraged to work with their schools to address any concerns they may have. Should parents feel that their issues are not resolved, they are able to contact SPEA’s Hotline for further guidance. 

Do schools have hotline numbers to answer our questions about Distance Learning? 
Yes, all schools have hotline numbers to respond to parent inquiries and questions regarding Distance Learning. 

When are schools expected to reopen?
The current situation in the UAE and worldwide is an evolving one. In the interest of safeguarding the health and wellbeing of students and teachers, Distance Learning has been extended until the end of the current academic year. For Indian / Pakistani curricula schools, Distance Learning has been extended to the end of the first semester (term) 2020.
Are schools allowed to distribute books or provide paper material to their students during the Distance Learning period?
As per Circular No (21) of 2020 schools are currently not allowed to exchange any type of paper material with their students. To ensure uninterrupted delivery of Distance Learning, schools are expected to incorporate alternative strategies and online learning methods, in addition to any electronic communication tools that are accessible to teachers and students.
Can parents go to school to collect their children’s uniform during the Distance Learning period? 
No, parents should not go to schools.  Collecting children’s uniform will be postponed until schools reopen. 
Can schools receive parents for a school tour?
Families wishing to enroll their children in a school for the next academic year are currently not allowed inside the physical premises of the campus for a school tour or meeting.

Will students be allowed to visit their schools to get assistance from teachers during the Distance Learning period?
No. Students will receive teachers’ assistance remotely.

Are the after-school clubs, extra curricula activities or enrichment program still ongoing during this time?
All programs that require physical presence of students will not be offered during the implementation of Distance Learning. However, schools should provide alternative online solutions to registered students. 

How can we register our children for the next academic year?
Schools should provide alternative online solutions to register students online for the next academic year.  

Will all schools be providing Distance Learning?
Yes, according to the Ministerial Decree No (229) of March 30th, 2020, schools that started their academic year in September, 2019 must provide Distance Learning for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year. Schools that started their academic year in April 2020 must provide Distance Learning until the end of the first semester.

If Distance Learning is not available at my child’s school, what can be done?
The UAE Ministry of Education has stated that all schools must provide Distance Learning during the school closure period. Please check with your school to learn how it plans to deliver Distance Learning.  If it is established beyond reasonable doubt that, to date, the school has not been delivering Distance Learning, please contact SPEA immediately.

We are struggling with the implementation of Distance Learning because some of our students and staff don't have internet connection. What can we do?
During the Distance Learning period, all Du, Etisalat and Virgin Mobile customers can access selected video conferencing tools (Blackboard, Zoom, Microsoft Teams) and schools’ websites without data charges. Operators are working to expand the list of available platforms and all information and updates can be found at these links:

My children can’t access Distance Learning because they don't have electronic devices. What can I do?
We recommend that you get in touch with your school and inform them.  
Will schools provide laptops and internet connectivity to students who are unable to afford it?
SPEA is working closely with school administrators and partners to equip students with all they need to implement Distance Learning. Your school is aware of the procedure to request support. Please refer back to your school administration. 
Who is eligible to receiving Distance Learning devices if they cannot afford one themselves?
Students of low and very low fee schools are eligible to receive devices on loan for the Distance Learning period. These will be disseminated through the schools.

The government facilitated support to help the economy, will similar support be given to the education sector?
To date, and with the support of our partners, we have provided over 200 laptops. We have launched a knowledge-sharing link with more than 1,000 teaching resources and short listed 297 websites for your children. We have also provided over 100 hours of online training to all educators in Sharjah. In addition, teachers have completed 8 hours of online courses on how to be an online tutor and design an online lesson. SPEA will continue to work closely with schools and parents to assist and support with other solutions to challenges faced.  

How will schools implement Distance Learning?
Although each school is unique and has its own plans for implementing Distance Learning, SPEA has circulated to all schools the “Distance Learning Policy”, to inform schools of the basic requirements and standards for Distance Learning to be implemented. SPEA is working closely with schools to make additional learning resources available to students and parents where needed.

Shall we expect the school to provide virtual / live streaming / asynchronous / live podcasting / live teaching sessions?
Yes, SPEA has directed all schools to implement virtual classrooms as well as asynchronous lessons. Research tells us that a balance is needed. 

How many live teaching sessions a day shall we expect?
It’s up to schools and the curriculum requirements. They should share the timetable with students and parents 

My children’s school uses links to share resources and assignment only, is this normal? 
Schools' responsibility should not be limited to sharing educational resources with student, which may place undue burden on parents as this may impede student learning. Rather, SPEA expects all schools to be mindful of the currents challenges the students are facing and ensure delivering the learning in an innovative way.

How much homework / assignments shall we expect? 
The amount of homework and/or assignments should be reasonable and in line with the challenges of the current situation. SPEA advises all schools to minimize the amount of homework as much as possible. SPEA expects all schools to be mindful of the current situation and aware of the parent’s expectations and challenges during the period of Distance Learning.  Schools should avoid placing undue burden on students and parents as this may impede student learning.

What subjects will students be required to study through Distance Learning?
Every school will have its own offering based on its curriculum requirements. SPEA mandates schools to cover the core curriculum subjects and mandated subjects. 

Does the Distance Learning  policy include Kindergarten stage?
Yes. Kindergarten 1 and above are included; all eligible students will receive Distance Learning material.

Shall we expect the school to have its own electronic platform?
Yes, all schools should have specific electronic platforms and applications to implement Distance Learning. 

Shall we expect the schools to share with us the access details for the electronic platform used in Distance Learning?
Yes, schools should provide log in details to all students to access the platforms.

How many students should be in one virtual class? 
As per regulations, class size should not exceed 30 students. We expect all schools to practice their educational activity as normal and comply. However, SPEA understands the nature of the current situation and we may allow some exceptions in certain cases. 

Is it allowed to have mixed classes with boys and girls in cycle 2 virtual classes?
As per the regulations, mixed classes are not permitted. We expect all schools to comply.  
Can the teacher combine his/her classes in one virtual class? 
SPEA encourages all schools to practice their educational activity as normal. Schools should avoid combining classes to ensure quality education. 

What time should the school day begin? 
The school day should not begin earlier than 8 am. All schools must practice their work as usual in the morning period for all grades. The school day should not exceed five (5) hours a day nor be less than four (4) hours a day. 
Schools are expected to consider the students at the kindergarten and primary stages and meet the expectations of their parents, as these stages require close monitoring and follow-up. 
How long is the virtual lesson?
SPEA advises schools to be mindful of the current situation and the challenges the students may face during the Distance Learning. Hence, the virtual lesson should not exceed 40 minutes nor be less than 25 minutes.   A minimum of a 5-minute break should be given to students between lessons.  

How can we help our children spend their free time meaningfully at home?
SPEA has recently launched three Virtual Competitions for our students in private schools. We strive to provide an attractive educational environment that allows our amazing students to highlight their capabilities and show their talents. Please contact your school competition coordinator for registration and more details. 

How have educators’ roles changed now that children are learning from home?
Teachers have taken on added responsibilities, but their role remains the same. Over 16,000 educators and teaching staff in Sharjah are preparing daily lessons, delivering comprehensive plans for Distance Learning, while working hard to continuously improve their methodology, in order to enhance the education experience for all students. We should also remember that many of them are parents as well, who are simultaneously educating both our children and their own. 

For schools who are not performing well in Distance Learning, what measures are SPEA taking to address this?
SPEA has been closely monitoring the experience of both schools and parents through regular surveys and fully dedicated hotlines during this phase, to continually improve the delivery of Distance Learning. We continue to work closely with all stakeholders to address any shortcomings and maintain the quality of education delivered. SPEA urges everyone to remember that this is a new experience, and as such, we advocate for more understanding and patience, as schools adjust and continue to improve on a new method of teaching. All schools are required to implement a parent communication strategy for Distance Learning; we encourage parents to contact their schools as soon as they are aware of emerging challenges. 

Do staff at schools have to physically come to work during this period?
On March 24th, 2020 a government circular stated that residents should not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Provided that Distance Learning continues uninterrupted, teachers and others staff should work from home. If absolutely necessary, a maximum of 20% of all staff may be allowed within the education institution building. They must follow social distancing rules. Please adhere to the instructions and follow the Ministry of Health and Prevention guidelines and continue to check official
social media and websites for updates.

Can I return to school after my holiday abroad?
No, the most recent government guidelines state that all UAE residents who have travelled abroad must self-quarantine for 14 day when they return. Failure to do so will be punishable by law. UAE residents will not be allowed to re-enter the UAE from abroad for a period of two weeks starting Thursday, March 19th 2020. Until further notice, the UAE will no longer be issuing visit visas to any foreign nationals. UAE nationals are prohibited from travelling abroad.

I’ve just returned from abroad and my employer is refusing to pay mysalary during the 14-day quarantine. Can they do this?
Staff salaries and employment are governed by the Ministry of Emiratization and Human Resources. Please contact the Ministry directly for guidance https://www.mohre.gov.ae/en/services/labour-offices.aspx

I am having trouble getting paid by my school, what can I do?
Please contact the Ministry of Emiratization and Human Resources and discuss your eligibility for payment through your legal agreement with them: https://www.mohre.gov.ae/en/services/labour-offices.aspx.
If I withdraw my child from school for Term 3, will he/she have to repeat the year?
According to UAE Ministry of Education ministerial decree no. (229) article 4, a student in grade 1/Year 2 and above who withdraws before the end of the academic year must repeat the same grade the following year.

Will I be able to get a refund from the school to cover the days my children aren’t at school?
No. Schools will continue to provide Distance Learning the end of the current academic year

Can schools introduce extra fees for access to online learning resources and apps for the Distance Learning period?
No. All the fees you have to pay are included in the tuition fees. Schools are not allowed to include any additional fees.

My child’s school has asked me to pay for the current term fees. What options do I have?
Schools are continuing to operate and provide education to students, and they need revenue to pay staff salaries among other expenses. However, we at SPEA also understand that many families are in a difficult financial situation. In these uncertain times, payment of school fees may need some compromise from both schools and parents.

Parents are concerned they won’t be able to pay fees for Term 3 (or Term 1 for Asian curriculum). What can I do?
It is the basic right of every child to a quality education, regardless of their circumstances. Families who have been adversely affected and are unable to fulfil expected payments are advised to contact their school for support and guidance on the next steps. SPEA recommends that schools and parents come together compassionately to find a solution that is agreeable to both.

Our school wants to offer parents discounts for Term 3. What are the regulations around this?
Schools are free to offer a discount on school fees during the period of Distance Learning. Schools may also change payment terms to suit parents’ needs, such as offering monthly payment options. We ask schools to inform SPEA if they choose either of these options.

Can I get a refund for Term 3 fees? 
In these exceptional circumstances, parents are entitled to a full refund of Term 3 fees provided they inform their school before the start of the term on April 5th 2020. Receiving a refund on fees is the equivalent of a withdrawal of enrolment from the school. You will need to pay any outstanding balance to your school to receive academic certificates and reports and your child might have to repeat the academic year

Why do I have to pay school fees if my children are learning from home?
As per the ministerial decree No. 229 for 2020, Article 5 states “Distance Learning is treated as equivalent to the Normal Learning.” The implementation of Distance Learning was a necessity to ensure the continuity of learning while keeping students and their families safe from the spread of the coronavirus. Although Distance Learning has transferred education from physical classrooms to virtual learning platforms, schools and educators across Sharjah are working full time to deliver daily lessons and will continue to provide Distance Learning.  Paying school fees on time means that student learning will continue uninterrupted. It also means that teachers will continue to be paid, and that schools will be able to offer the same facilities and services when they reopen. 
Families who have been adversely affected and are unable to fulfil expected payments are advised to contact their school for support and guidance on the next steps. SPEA recommends that schools and parents come together compassionately to find a solution
that is agreeable to both.

Will parents be entitled to any refunds for transportation and canteencosts? 
As per the SPEA Circular No (27) of 2020, parents are entitled to refund for school transportation and canteen services or any other services that was not used during this period. 

What happens if parents don’t pay outstanding tuition fees?
All parents are expected to pay their children’s tuition fees as required by their schools. Parents who refuse to pay fees will not be able to obtain their children’s end-of-year certificates, which means that they will need to repeat the academic year.  However, there are families who have been adversely affected and are unable to fulfil expected payments. Parents facing extenuating circumstances are advised to contact their schools for support and guidance on next steps. 
Are students still taking international exams for this year?
In light of the rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19, most of the Exam Boards have cancelled their external exams. SPEA is closely coordinating with these boards to keep schools, students and parents updated with the latest decisions.

Will students be affected by these decisions?
Exam Boards are working diligently to ensure these decisions have minimal impact on their students. SPEA is in constant contact with international Exam Boards to assess the impact of these decisions on Sharjah private school students and to ensure the continuity of their educational journey. 

Which external international exams have been cancelled?
Below is a list of cancelled external international examinations, as officially announced by Exam Boards. The list is broken down by curriculum type and listed in alphabetical order. You can click on the Exam Board or the exam name to view the official cancellation announcement and further instruction offered by the board.
List of Cancelled Exams
American and SABIS Curriculums
College (US) Exam Board: SAT and ACT (Affected grades: 11 - 12), and AP (Affected grades: 10 - 12) - Note: AP students are given the option of taking the exam online, as per the information provided on this page.

British Curriculum
The following international exams have the same affected grades 10 - 13 
Cambridge International Exam Board: IGCSE, O-Level, International AS & A- Level, AICE Diploma and Pre-U
Pearson (EdEXcel) Exam Board: GCSE, A Level, iPrimary, iLower Secondary, International GCSE and A-Level
Oxford AQA Exam Board: International GCSE and A-level 

Indian Curriculum
The following international exams have the same affected grades: 10 -  12
CBSE Exam Board: Class 10 (X) and Class 12 (XII) board examinations
Kerala Exam Board: Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) and Higher secondary exams
International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum
IB Exam Board: Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme (Affected grades: 12)

Pakistani Curriculum
Federal (Pakistan) Exam Board: SSC and HSSC (Affected grades: 10-12)

Will my children have end of year exams?
Yes, each school will utilize an electronic assessment platform that is appropriate to the curriculum requirements and approved by SPEA.
Are students of determination going to be considered during the period of Distance Learning?
Yes, students of determination will also receive appropriate Distance Learning material from their schools. Parents of students of determination will also receive the proper guidance and support from their schools to ensure this takes place. Teachers will receive professional development training to ensure they support students of determination online.
My child has a Learning Support Assistant (Shadow Teacher) at school.  The LSA has not been able to support us online. Do I still need to pay for this service?
You should only pay for the service you are receiving.  As per the SPEA Circular No (27) of 2020, parents are entitled to refund for school transportation and canteen services or any other services that was not used during this period. Your school must deduct the cost of the LSA from Term 3 fees.
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