With the closure of schools and universities in Qatar, virtual classes are set to take place of conventional means of teaching and learning as a number of educational institutes are ready to employ modern technology.

Virtual classes are emerging as an alternative for the classes of schools and universities which were suspended to curb the spread of COVID-19. While some private universities and schools have already announced starting virtual classes for their students, the officials of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education say they may opt the distant mode in case of closure of educational institutes for an extended period of time.

Undersecretary at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Dr. Ibrahim Al Nuaimi, has said that the virtual education would be an alternative for schools and universities if the classes are suspended for long to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“I wish the return of classes as soon as possible but if suspension of classes continue we will resort to the use of technology of virtual classes as an alternative which we have and it will be applied on schools and universities,” said Dr. Ibrahim Al Nuaimi while talking in a Qatar TV programme.

He assured that situation is under control in schools and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, since the outbreak of coronavirus in China, took measures to maintain hygiene in school facilities such as sterilising water coolers, classes, chairs, tables, corridors and toilets.

“The workers of cleaning companies were provided special training for sterilising school facilities, isolation rooms were set up as a precautionary measures following the directive of the Ministry of Public Health,” said Al Nuaimi.

He said that the students had completed the exams of first semester and only a part of second semester exam remained which prompted the Ministry to study different alternatives to deal with this case.

“The suspension of classes came as one of the precautionary measures to limit the spread of the virus. By the way, we are going for regular vacation from next week which is mid-term holiday,” said Al Nuaimi.

He explained that only classes for the students were suspended, teachers and employees will be on duty who are being cared properly under certain measures such as cancellation of fingerprint biometric attendance system and banning gathering for their safety.

“The government schools and many private schools have a distinct infrastructure and some private schools are able to provide distance education  which can be accessed from homes,” said Al Nuaimi

He said that all measures were taken at the Ministry, private schools and universities for switching to virtual classes if the suspension of classroom teaching continues. “The Ministry communicated with the parents and guided them. Now we are communicating with the teachers,” said Al Nuaimi.

He said that now the instructions were issued to the parents and students to help students who have difficulty in using the technology of virtual classes and this will be done in a normal manner.
Meanwhile, Qatar University has announced that the educational process will continue with the help of virtual learning platforms.

“Based on the statement issued by the Government Communications Office to suspend classes in public and private schools and universities for all students in Qatar until further notice, Qatar University has announced certain measures in this regard,” Qatar University tweeted on Monday evening.

In another tweet, the university said: “The educational process will continue with the help of virtual and distance learning platforms and the university will communicate with the students via email and blackboard to provide them with details. All university staff and faculty members should continue work as usual.”

Northwestern University in Qatar has also said that based on the Qatar government’s decision, NU-Q classes on the ground will be moved to canvas. Students should not report to campus; faculty and staff are expected to report as usual, said the University. Birla Public School has said that the ongoing Grade XII classes (Academic Year 2020-2021) will resume in an online platform (virtual classroom) from March 15, 2020. Similarly, virtual classroom for Grade X will commence from March 22, 2020 and for Grades VI – IX from April 5, 2020. For Grades up to V, classes will begin based on the Ministry of Education’s directives, the school said.