Update on COVID-19 in Jordan & the 2021 Summer Term

COVID-19 | Health & Safety Guidelines

(Approximate Reading Time: 15 Minutes)

We hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

As you know, the recent worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on all of us. As of February, there are more than 100 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide with new cases being reported every minute. Large portions of the global population are currently under curfew/lockdown and many governments are struggling to serve the medical, social, and economic needs of their citizens. In no uncertain terms, these are strange and difficult times.

At Qasid, the past year has been a very busy time. As the spread of the virus became more apparent in February 2020, our focus was set on the health and safety of our students and staff in Amman. We took a number of steps to spread awareness, make our physical space more hygienic and safe, and convey the guidance of local and international medical health experts.

In early-March, the pace and nature of governmental advice and regulations began to change and on March 17th developed into a total lockdown and ban on travel to and from Jordan (this ban continued until September 8th). In the days (and sometimes hours) that led up to the March 17th travel ban, we continued to prioritize the safety of our students and staff, however, in addition to providing resources for their physical and emotional well-being, we directed our attention to the importance of their physical location as well. Many decided to stay whereas an equal number preferred to go home. We did our best to make sure that everyone was able to be, or get to, wherever they felt most safe.

From March 17th until March 29th, our staff returned to preparations that began in February for transitioning our onsite program in Amman to an online setting. This was in order to continue serving our students who had left Jordan and those who remained but, due to the curfew imposed at the time, were unable to come to campus for their classes. Even with more than a decade’s worth of experience teaching Arabic online, it was a major shift. Despite the curfew, personal responsibilities, and a very different idea of “work-life balance,” the efforts of my colleagues quite literally blew me away. I’m happy to report that the transition was a success, and our 2020 Spring, Summer, and Fall Terms were completed online. The 2020-2021 Winter Term students are currently attending their classes online as well.

During this period, we’ve received a number of questions about health/safety regulations and guideline at Qasid if/when classes will resume in-person.  To that end, in this message we’ll address the following:

  • The current status of COVID-19 in Jordan
  • Possibilities for in-person instruction
  • Guidance if/when in-person instruction restarts
    • What the Jordanian government is doing
    • What Qasid is doing
    • What you can do
  • A note on staying calm and treating others with respect
  • Important contact information

There is a significant amount of detail below. Please read (and re-read) carefully and reach out to us with any questions (contact information below).

The Current Status of COVID-19 in Jordan

In Jordan, we’re grateful that, due to a number of early preventative measures taken by local authorities, the spread of the virus was relatively limited up until the beginning of August. In the months that followed, there was a noticeable increase in cases. Whereas in July we may have had 5-10 new cases on a given day, in October it was normal to have more than 3000. Additionally, the effect of COVID-19 on the local population has been significant: a nationwide curfew, the closure of airports and all bordering crossings until early September, and the tragic passing of more than 4000 members of Jordanian society (amongst a host of other challenges).

Thankfully, and since mid-December, daily numbers have continued to decrease, however, local authorities remain cautious so as to avoid a second (or third) wave affecting Jordan. A part of that caution is keeping most educational institutions (including Qasid) online until it is deemed safe and responsible to restart in-person (more on this below).

Once again, we express our sincere thanks to the Jordanian authorities who are working very hard to keep all of us safe.

Possibilities for In-Person Instruction

For most of 2020 and into 2021, the Jordanian Ministry of Education has kept all instruction for schools, universities, and private institutes (like Qasid) online. Starting in early-February 2021, schools were allowed to return to in-person teaching based on a hybrid schedule, however, universities and private institutes have remained online.

As of February 15, 2021, it is unclear as to when we will receive government permission to return to teaching onsite. Our hope is that we will be able to do so by June, however, due to the fluid and ever-changing nature of the current pandemic, it is very difficult to announce, much less implement, a clear timeline. Instead, we regularly review and update our online/onsite status based on (1) the overall health/safety situation in Jordan, (2) local government regulations, (3) the feasibility of students traveling to Jordan at a given time.

Guidance If/When In-Person Instruction Restarts

What the Jordanian Government is Doing:

Local authorities have taken a number of steps in order to try and control/minimize the spread of COVID-19 in-country.

Among these steps are the following:

  • The creation of a National Preparedness and Response Operational Plan for COVID-19. This plan was created in coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • The Jordanian Ministry of Health (MoH) has set up an emergency call center with a hotline number +962 778 410 186
    • We kindly ask that all students and staff save this number in their phones and call it in case of medical need
  • All travelers entering Jordan are required to:
    • Show proof of a “negative” COVID-19 PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours prior to their departure to Jordan
    • Upon arrival, all travelers will be undergo a second PCR test at their own expense (currently priced at 28 JOD/approx.. 40 USD)
      • Travelers will not need to wait at the airport to receive your test results. Rather, the results will be sent as a text message within 24-hours. Those who test positive will be required to home quarantine for 7 days. Those who test negative are not required to quarantine.
    • All travelers are required to download the government-sponsored “AMAN” contact tracing app on their phones
  • Health care providers at all entry points to Jordan have been trained in how to identify and handle cases of COVID-19
  • The MoH has created Rapid Response Teams that are ready to quickly investigate and treat any suspected cases of the virus
  • Educational and awareness related materials have been created and distributed (Arabic and English) in order to debunk rumors and counter any false information being spread about the virus amongst the public
  • Mandating social distance and mask protocols in all non-residential buildings, offices, businesses and public buildings. Non-compliance is punishable by fines and possible jail time for repeat offenses

Additionally, the government has worked hard to make testing sites widely available. To that end, the following private labs provide PCR tests at a fixed rate of 28 JOD/approx.. 40 USD with test results ready within 24 hours (list is not exhaustive):

Finally, the underlying capacity in the health care sector has been increased in order to handle current levels of COVID in country and possible increases. To that end, the government has approved the following hospitals (some public, others private) in providing treatment to COVID patients:

What Qasid is Doing:

In regular our discussions with local/international health and security officials over the past year, it has been made clear that the best action we can take on an individual and institutional level is to focus on implementing proper hygiene.

To that end, we installed a number of hand sanitizing pumps throughout Qasid and increased our janitorial staff in both number and supplies.

Additionally, we are in regular communication with the Jordanian Ministry of Health and Border Security Services in order to keep up-to-date on any/all travel restrictions so as to pass those messages onto students/staff immediately.

Finally, our staff are prepared to assist students in arranging:

  • PCR tests and/or
  • Treatment at local labs/hospitals
  • Separate housing for those who test positive at the airport and are required to home quarantine for 7 days
    • Please note that each student will be responsible for full payment for any tests, treatment, or costs associated with home quarantine (rent, food, utilities, etc.) Accordingly, we strongly recommend that those who choose to travel to Jordan check with their home insurance company well before departure to determine what will/will not be covered during their time abroad.

What You Can Do:

Based on the advice of the experts we have consulted, we’d like to offer the following advice. Please note that our area of expertise is not health care. As such, the following suggestions are not our own. Rather, they have been gleaned from the advice of local and international authorities. For specific advice on what actions to take for your own health care, please make sure to contact a medical practitioner (see contact information at the end of this email).

  • Practice Good Hygiene:
    • The following link contains very useful information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) on how, on an individual level, you can best protect yourself from COVID-19:
  • Practice Situational Awareness
  • Practice Factual Awareness
    • The following link from WHO contains useful “myth-busting” information that can help in keeping us “factually-aware” of how to handle the current situation:
  • Practice Personal Awareness
    • If you have any of the following symptoms, please (1) get in touch with us immediately (contact numbers below) and (2) stay at home. We will help you get in touch with local health professionals who can advise on next steps:
      • Fever or chills
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Fatigue
      • Muscle or body aches
      • Headache
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Sore throat
      • Congestion or runny nose
      • Nausea or vomiting
A Note on Staying Calm and Treating Others with Respect

In difficult situations, it is normal to worry and be concerned about one’s safety and that of others. This is a natural instinct and, if directed properly, can go a long way towards solving any crisis. Still, an unfortunate reality of crises is that they can cause panic as well. The negative effects of panic are myriad and, in the end, the best way to solve issues of the scale we are discussing here is through calm and collected planning. By staying calm, aware, and diligently applying the advice of health experts, we all do our part in beating this epidemic.

On a separate but related note, it is important for all of us to be aware of how our statements and actions effect others. Our attempts at staying safe should never come at the cost of making others feel suspect based on their nationality or cultural background. Worldwide, individuals with certain cultural backgrounds have been discriminated against, made to feel that they are a danger to public safety, and in some cases, physically attacked. The situation in Jordan is no different. It is crucial for us to avoid judging others and to leave the task of identifying who needs medical assistance to those who are trained to do so.

Important Contact Information
  • Omar Matadar | Director | +962 776 703 222 | omar@qasid.com
  • Ayman Aladarbeh | Student Services | +962 776 553 366 | ayman@qasid.com
  • Jordanian Ministry of Health (Emergency Call Center) | +962 778 410 186