The change was quietly published without formal announcement on 4th March:
"There are no longer any restrictions on class bubble sizes in schools or ECCs for children under the age of 6."
This news will largely be welcomed by ECC and nursery operators in particular, many of whom have felt hard hit, running at lowered capacities, with increased staffing requirements, since reopening in the latter months of 2020.
Under KHDA guidelines, the maximum size of groups of children permitted in ECCs, nurseries and early years sections in schools is defined by the size of the space used, as well as taking into account staffing requirements and stipulated ratios per age group.
Prior to Covid-19 restrictions, class sizes in Dubai ECCs and nurseries typically ranged from as low as 8 children (for younger age groups) up to as many as 30 children in some larger settings. This means that while the easing of class size restrictions will have little or no impact on some settings, it may have a major impact on others.
Restrictions in place when ECCs and nurseries initially reopened required bubbles to be capped at 8 for groups of children under 2-years-old, and 10 for groups of children aged 2 years plus. This was later increased to 15 children per group, upon the handover of regulatory responsibilities for ECCs and nurseries from the Ministry of Education to KHDA in 2021.
While ECC and nursery operators will appreciate this easing of restrictions, it may now be challenging to receive parent acceptance of class size increases. Many parents of nursery-age children have only known these reduced capacities and could be in for a shock as classes grow.
Emma Robertson, whose 2 year old daughter attends a nursery in Dubai, told us:
"While I have understood that class sizes would not always be like this, I do feel concerned at nursery class sizes increasing. 15 is already too many children in one group in my view, and now we may have more."