In a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19, UAE has temporarily closed nurseries, kindergartens, and stopped after-school clubs until further notice. Nursery owners raced to reached out to parents over SMS texts, social media alerts, and e-mails to alert parents on Saturday afternoon, following the announcement from the UAE Ministry of Education.

Though nurseries and parents have called the decision to close nurseries temporarily a necessary one, several parents are now scrambling to find alternative child care centres.

However, working parents, especially ones with toddlers, said the sudden announcement has left them in flux. Several parents said they are now desperately seeking the help of nannies and in some cases, are resorting to leaving their children with baby sitters.

Nurseries race to alert parents

A spokesperson for the British Orchard Nursery in Dubai told Khaleej Times, “In compliance with the Ministry of Education, British Orchard Nursery is taking all the necessary precautions possible to protect our children. Safety of our children and staff is of the utmost priority.”

Several nurseries also took to social media to alert parents about the closure. Safari Kid Dubai tweeted, “In light of the recent events related to Coronavirus; the ministry of education has announced that all nurseries would be closed starting tomorrow. This is until further notice. We thank you for your understanding in advance.”

Dubai Marina Nursery (Raffles Nursery) also took to Instagram to inform parents about the ‘indefinite closure’, adding, “We will keep you updated as soon as we have more information from our official channels.”

An owner of two nurseries in Dubai said, “Almost 95 per cent of kids in one of our branches are working parents. Since the announcement was made with such short notice, they are presently actively seeking alternative options. Some are looking at baby-sitting, which is illegal; and some are actively looking for nannies.”

Parents search for alternative care options

Mohammed* (name withheld at request), an Egyptian national living in Dubai is father to two daughters, aged two and three-years-old respectively. Mohammed and his wife are both working professionals and other than leaving their girls in a nursery; they both have no other alternative care option. “We have no other option without a nursery. My kids are too small, I cannot leave them at home, and it is not safe to keep a nanny at home, and it is difficult to find one at such short notice.”

He added, “In this case, my wife and I will have to apply for annual leave which takes three days for approval. Even if I take emergency leave, I need to produce documents.”

Adelaide Cecilia, another parent, asked on the Khaleej Times Facebook page, “Too challenging to those parents who are working and don’t have nannies what will they do now?”

Some parents also said this is necessary and important that safeguards the life of tiny tots. Manoj Bharati said, “It is essential because little ones are more susceptible to this disease. This decision will guarantee their safety.”