Some workers returning to offices in Riyadh as Kingdom relaxes curfew

Police enforcing the curfew order check a motorist along a road in Tabarjal town in the northwestern Saudi province of Al-Jouf on Wednesday. (SPA)
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Updated 07 May 2020

Some workers returning to offices in Riyadh as Kingdom relaxes curfew

RIYADH: Some offices in the Saudi capital have partly returned to work on a rotation basis after the relaxation of curfew hours during Ramadan.

The curfew across Saudi Arabia was partially lifted early on April 26, with the exception of Makkah and adjacent neighborhoods previously isolated after a coronavirus outbreak.

The Ministry of the Interior had announced a relaxation of the ban on movement within the city limits from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from April 26 to May 13.

However, the ban on movement between the country’s different regions remains in effect even outside the curfew hours.

As part-time return to work begins, roads that were deserted in Riyadh due to the lockdown now have cars on them and people can be seen moving around.

Nasser Al-Shalhoub, a financial analyst at a private company in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Since last week some of the departments have resumed work from our offices, and we have been working every other day.”

HIGHLIGHT

The curfew across Saudi Arabia was partially lifted early on April 26, with the exception of Makkah and adjacent neighborhoods previously isolated after a coronavirus outbreak.

Asked what arrangements the company had made to follow the health guidelines such as social distancing and health precautions, Al-Shalhoub said: “Fifty percent of employees should be working in the office. Every morning before entering the office employees have to take a temperature test and be checked by a medical specialist.”

The company provided masks and gloves to employees while sanitizing the offices and entire building regularly, he said.

“I don’t think it was necessary to work from the office, we could work virtually like previous weeks because they have already provided us with access and technology devices but the problem is that some of the employees lack the knowledge to use technology, therefore we had to go back to work from the office.”

While movement restrictions might have eased, many companies have their employees working in rotations to minimize the potential spread of the disease and to maintain a social distance of six feet. 

Zakir Azmi, an accountant with Mawarid Holding company in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Our management had decided to work from the office after a partial lifting of the lockdown, however the legal and other departments were of a view to continue working from home. As the pandemic is still spreading with cases being reported daily, finally it was decided to attend the office only on a need-to basis.”

As some offices are looking into partially allowing their employees to return to work, precautionary measures must be adhered to at all times, such as practicing healthy hygiene habits, intensified cleaning, disinfection, ventilation, social distancing and restricted use of any shared items or spaces.


Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

Updated 23 October 2020

Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

JEDDAH: Six international organizations have completed two studies on e-learning in the Kingdom and praised its efforts in providing a rapid response, multiple options and continuous improvement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The studies involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.
The center said that the global organizations completed two comprehensive studies on the experience of public and higher education in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, with the aim of documenting and studying the reality of the experience and coming up with initiatives to develop e-learning practices in accordance with current global practices and standards.
The studies were conducted with the participation of students, faculty members, teachers, parents and school leaders.
The number of participants in the public education study reached 318,000, while the number of participants in the higher education study reached 24,000.
The first study was prepared by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), with the participation of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Quality Matters (QM), the UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in Education (IITE), the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) in the US.
The second study was prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the cooperation of the Harvard Graduate School
of Education.
In the studies, reference comparisons were made with more than 193 countries. The two studies showed the Kingdom’s distinction in the diversity of options, including, for example, electronic content and satellite channels available for e-learning in public education.

NUMBER

342k

The studies on e-learning involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.

The percentage of countries that succeeded in providing these at the national level was only 38 percent.
The study conducted by the OECD and the Harvard Graduate School of Education included a comparison of the Kingdom’s response to education during the COVID-19 pandemic with 37 member states.
The results showed the Kingdom’s progress in 13 out of 16 indicators on the average of
these countries.
The study also revealed that teachers received significant support to overcome obstacles to e-learning.
The study of public education indicated that there was a clear strategy for the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in the Kingdom and address any issues.
OLC hailed the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Education in dealing with the crisis by providing a variety of options for e-learning, and the quick response to the pandemic and immediate shift to remote instruction.
The two studies recommended 71 proposed development initiatives for public education and 78 proposed development initiatives for higher education.
The National Center for e-Learning is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education to present the initiatives and begin their implementation.
The center announced that the organizations that conducted the studies would publish their results and complete the second phase at the end of the current semester.

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