On-campus classes from October 3rd: Schools get ready; kids gear up; parents excited!

On-campus classes from October 3rd: Schools get ready; kids gear up; parents excited!

The thrilling moment has finally arrived for children as they head back to school on October 3rd, Sunday! Back to their desks, to their friends, teachers and so much more! Due to the pandemic, children across the world had become accustomed to distance learning, and kids being a bit nervous was expected as they head back to campuses across the UAE.

Fatima Zara Shaikh, the mother of two years old Zidaan, said that her son is quite thrilled to start schooling at Dew Drops Nursery. Though he has not been vaccinated, she is planning to take the vaccine when it comes out for younger children, but other required immunization shots are being taken. She has instructed her kid to stay clean by sanitizing his hands regularly as well as asking him to stay masked. She added that the school, which has a big campus, has taken care of everything. They have planned to avoid group activities and encourage individual activities, she informed.

Asha-Alexander-GEMS-reopen

Schools are geared up to welcome in their full strength. In terms of preparations, speaking with TheBrew.ae, Asha Alexander, Principal of GEMS Legacy School said that they have been eagerly looking forward to the arrival of students. She added, “Teachers have been advised to be patient, alert, and mindful as they welcome back the students. The focus will be on settling them into a routine after months of disruption and in ensuring their well-being during the first two weeks so that they are familiarized with the new ways of working.”

In terms of covid measures across classrooms, she said that they’ve ensured that Kindergarten students have acrylic partitions to maintain the bubble of 15 in all the kindergarten classrooms. Students will maintain a 1 metre distance where possible and will be monitored through regular temperature checks. Sanitizing hands and mask usage will continue as it did before.

She said that in terms of special kids, they have permitted ‘Learning Support Assistants’ to accompany the children to classes and ensure that they follow the required norms and when required they will be given one-to-one instruction. The school will strictly follow all the norms of KHDA and DHA in terms of precautions and actions. 

Alexander added that several of the younger KG students would have to be guided as they never have been to a physical classroom. A lot of social interaction opportunities have been prepared for our youngest students to get to know each other as well as their class teachers. The older students have a host of resources like NAO Robots, Drones, and activities in the science labs in-store to pique their interest.

While children’s excitement knows no bounds, educators have got a host of preparations in the pipeline as they welcome children back on campus.

Deepika Thapar Singh, CEO-Principal, Credence High School explained to TheBrew.ae that they have always been ready to welcome all their students to school after implementing all the mandatory guidelines given by the DHA and the KHDA. She said, “October 3 will be a unique day for Dubai schools as it will witness the pre-pandemic days of schooling albeit revamped with safety and technology.” In terms of precautions, Singh says that for the safety of both, students and staff, all protocols will be followed such as wearing masks as well as social distancing.

Body temperature will be monitored before any student/staff enter the school premises. Entry for parents, visitors, or guests will require a vaccine card. With a student body of about 1,200 students from Pre-KG to Grade 12, Credence High School’s infrastructure is well equipped to welcome all the students back to the campus.

Singh also added that Credence is an inclusive school and children with special needs are well supported by the Learning Support assistants, student buddies, and their vigilant staff. In the event of a case being reported at the school, Singh said that they will follow all the guidelines as mandated by DHA and KHDA. She added, “The guidelines are very clear and on the report of a positive case the contact tracing will be initiated, and remote classes will be provided to the positive case and the close contacts.”

Father of three, Syed Kamran Abbas expressed that his children are excited to going back to school as they were bored being at home. Syed informed that his two kids Ibrahim (14) and Noor (13) are vaccinated but since Musa (9) is below the age limit, he hasn’t gotten a vaccine. “If in the future it is made compulsory, then yes, he will also get the vaccine,” he said.

Syed added that school has helped in fixing their sleeping cycles and they are passionate about being outside again even though it was a bit of an adjustment at first. He noted, amusingly, that having children busy keeps sibling quarrels to a minimum which means peace of mind for parents.

Iffat Saiyed, mother of Abdul Hadi (5), mirrors other parent’s woes. She added that despite her son enthusiastically studying at home initially, he got bored soon. She has taught him how to ‘keep safe and clean, maintain social distance from others, avoid touching dirty things and sanitize often’ among other safety and hygiene information.

She emphasized the physical part of the education, “He is excited to meet his friends and enjoy time together with them after being alone for so long. He enjoys school playtime, and when it comes to studying, he loves studying face-to-face, now more than before, as well as doing in-class activities.”

Frontline workers have brought the COVID19 vaccine to life, however, it is not available to all children yet, which is a concern for doctors today. Dr Jerry Jimmy Chiramel, a doctor from Aster Clinic Sharjah, says that schools and parents have a great responsibility. This is especially prevalent in the younger kids for example children in the lower primary section who do not know the importance of the no-touch technique as well as wearing masks. Kids may forget that they must not touch the front-facing side of the mask with their hands as it could be contaminated.

These are some of the concerns in his mind when it comes to kids going back to school, but he says that he is glad that the case rates have dropped and things are slowly getting better. He added that it would be more ideal, however, for all the eligible students to be vaccinated before they head to school.

Dr Chiramel shared his experience where one of his child patient who got a plaster done is eager to go to school. “When I informed her that she would have to avoid school for one to two weeks, she began crying while expressing sadness on not being able to join her school.”

Parents have also welcomed the vaccine, some who can give it to are considering it. Shabana Nakhooda mother of Shadaan (13), student of Deira International School, said that her son is excited to go back to school as he is in a grade 10 and misses his friends and the school atmosphere. “He is vaccinated, matured enough to understand the situation, so he knows how to comply with the protocols. Having to stay at home upset him” she added, “Even during the initial months of virtual learning, he was upset about not being able to go to school. He is thrilled about returning to school on-site.” Sending the child to school also takes the pressure off from the parents, so on-site learning is certainly better, she reasoned.

Students who had already started on-site classes were happy to share their experiences. Speaking with TheBrew.ae, 13-year-old Syeda Noor Fatima, grade 8 student at Westminster School (Dubai) expressed her joy, “I felt great to be in the class physically.” she said. Explaining about the school academic year post-covid-lockdown, she said, “It was different as students were socially distanced and outside activities had been reduced, but that loneliness is more prone in school due to social distancing.” She added, “The water filter and canteens are closed. The learning and teaching style is the same in school as it was online, though physically, students are more interactive than virtually. Teachers can focus on students properly, so less stress for them, too.”

She went on to explain, “Borrowing books from the library is not allowed. Buses are sanitized each time after each run. The school has 5 playgrounds, so students are divided – girls, boys, and primary – and sent to separate playgrounds during breaks. Breaks are at different times so that students won’t crowd the area during break time.”

Another parent Fazmina Sideek added that over the last two years, her kids have, on their own picked up the fact that there is a virus, and that they need to stay safe. She believes in giving them advice to follow and tips on how to stay hygienic. She believes in training by example which makes it easy for kids to follow like washing hands and having vitamins. Her children have started picking up on these habits, especially drinking vitamin water two or three times a week. Sideek says, “The kids are enjoying school very much. They are loving it so far, and it is such a nice thing to see them back at school.”

-with inputs from Vismay Anand and Shaneer Siddiqui

Zoya Siddiqui

Zoya is a fledgling journalist with a natural penchant for wordsmithery and a soft corner for environment and wildlife. A literature student, she contributes articles on history, environment and latest fads.

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