Covid in Dubai: Students hope to return to in-person classes 'soon' as schools go online again amid rising cases

Before the winter break, most education institutions across Dubai operated at 100 per cent capacity

File photo
File photo

Nandini Sircar

Published: Tue 4 Jan 2022, 5:05 PM

Last updated: Tue 4 Jan 2022, 5:07 PM

Some Dubai schools have moved back to online learning in January 2022 after the resumption of complete face-to-face classes only in October 2021.

Before students headed for the 2021 winter break, education institutions across Dubai operated at 100 per cent capacity for two-and-a-half months.

Children were edging back to a pre-pandemic learning environment with schools guided by the emirate’s education regulator, Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), who had carefully planned a safe full reopening this October.

But after the first in-person classes in the new term on Monday, some schools have swiftly switched to remote learning for at least a week, as they received increasing number of Covid positive test reports and close contact notifications, for their staff and students.

Filipino expat and Grade 8 student of Cambridge International School, Izabella Faye Lebig, says, “A few months ago I’d gone back to face-to-face learning, after almost a year I was again meeting with my teachers and friends in person, and I realised it was a much better learning, engaging and enjoyable experience than Distance Learning. So, when we had to return to online learning for a whole week, the first week of Term 2, I was disappointed. Nevertheless, I understand that safety comes first.”

She adds, “I found Distance Learning to be a test of discipline, how good I am at remaining focused in class, so I suppose Distance Learning – given the current situation - makes sense. That being said I can’t wait for the current situation to be under control so we can all go back again to face to face learning.”

Families recall the logistical challenges of online schooling especially with children who require adult supervision.

Parent of a Grade Year 1 student, Arijit Nandi says, “It just felt like yesterday that children enjoyed a return to an educational experience reminiscent of pre-pandemic times. School activities began again that included field trips, extra-curricular activities and community events which is very important for children. What can be accomplished with face-to-face learning can never be replicated in an online class. But now with the surge in virus cases, which is quite worrying for everyone, my child’s school yesterday informed parents about their temporary switch to distance learning.


"My office work sometimes demands immediate response to an email or an urgent phone call. On the other hand, my son’s online classes required me to be physically around him as he was unable to navigate on the TEAMS app independently. My wife has Covid so she is isolating. My five-year-old can only mute and unmute the mike on his own. The teacher was giving classwork which needed to be completed on the app which is installed on my son’s iPad. So, these things require a grown up to be around at the time of these classes. It feels like we’ve gone back to the time of early 2021 when families were juggling between office work and their children’s online classes. Hopefully, this time around this won’t last for long.”

While many students and parents averred that they had forgotten the entire experience of remote learning, some families thought the quick shift to remote learning in the given situation meant less anxiety for parents and school communities.

Grade 8 student of Al Diyafah High School, Amatullah Arsiwala, says, “I feel extremely sad and disappointed that I must go back to online school. It was only recently that I had a chance to meet my friends and teachers but being positive has put a halt to this! While the experience in online learning is seamless, the spirit which a class of 25 students shares when together is certainly missing! I am hoping this settles soon and I can go back to good old days of physical learning.”

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