Back to school in Dubai: Students excited to reunite with friends, teachers

Dubai - Campuses erupt with joy at the start of new school year on Sunday.


Nandini Sircar

Published: Sun 29 Aug 2021, 4:25 PM

Last updated: Sun 29 Aug 2021, 4:26 PM

Pupils were welcomed back to schools on Sunday amid much enthusiasm in the new academic session, as Dubai seeks to win over the raging Covid-19 challenge.

Most schools organised induction/orientation programmes that kept pupils busy during the first half of the day ahead of their in-classroom lessons.

Euphoric mood on campuses

The mood on the school campuses was euphoric, as pupils, including new entrants, greeted their friends, peers and teachers with visible enthusiasm after a 58-day summer break.

The wait for the first day of in-classroom lessons has been more than a year because of an overnight switch to online learning due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

Mandatory physical attendance from Oct 3

Earlier, Dubai's education regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), announced that 100 per cent in-classroom lessons would start from October 3.

Karim Murcia, the Principal of Gems Al Barsha National School, said, “Pupils are thrilled to be back on the campus. Teachers were busy on induction/orientation and training programmes last week. They're excited to meet our pupils. We’re delighted by the turn of events. It's a moment to cherish as we look forward to several exciting events over the next few weeks such as the inauguration of Expo 2020 and the Golden Jubilee celebrations. We're in an incredibly strong position to ensure that the community benefits from a holistic experience in this academic year.”

Sangita Chima, the Principal of Amity School, Dubai, said: “It’s been a fun-filled day. We’re thrilled to see the pupils back at school. The spirit and enthusiasm shown by parents and their children would help us to ensure in-classroom lessons continue, despite the Covid-19 pandemic challenges. We've prepared with a great deal of enthusiasm, excitement and commitment to welcome our pupils back. The response from parents has been overwhelming on the first day after the summer vacation, as the attendance has been almost 100 per cent. We’ve been living up to the KHDA’s motto that it’s great to be together again.”

Educationists have reiterated about the emotional challenges of senior pupils that need to be addressed in the new school year that started from Sunday after distance learning had become the norm owing to the raging Covid-19 outbreak.

Educators brace for challenges

Matthew Burfield, Principal and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gems Founders School, threw light on some of the challenges that educators are bracing for.

He said, “The senior pupils have been more vulnerable, as compared to their younger counterparts because of the Covid-19 challenge. The older lot’s confidence needs to be rebuilt, as they’ve been away from classrooms for long, which may have impaired their social skills. This is the critical challenge for me as a veteran educator and for many of us across the world.”

Teachers and pupils exuded confidence about the KHDA’s strict precautionary norms that are being complied with by schools.

Ahmed Al Yousuf, an Emirati pupil of Grade VII in the school, said, “I’m excited to be back in school. It’s a wonderful feeling to catch up with my friends and peers in person after a long gap. We also filled up a form about our likes and dislikes, which helped the school know us better and how our preferences may have changed during the prolonged absence.”

Happy days are back again

The ubiquitous yellow buses heralded those happy days are here again as institutions went back to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels while adhering to all contagion-related safety protocols.

Alice Rivetti, a Year 13 Student of GFS, said, “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that in-classroom lessons are back with a bang. Though last year was daunting because of the raging viral outbreak, we adapted well. Finally, normalcy is back.”

Lydie Webb, a British parent and a teacher at GEMS Wellington Academy, Al Khail, Dubai, said, “It’s my first year at this school. It’s their first year as well. I’m going to be teaching languages and they’re very excited to be in school. My daughter and son are going to be in Year 1 and 4, respectively. We’re excited about all the new activities especially swimming and we’re looking forward to that. We’re happy to be in Dubai and elated about the resumption of in-classroom lessons.”

Though earlier physical education (PE) was restricted to schools in Dubai, individual sports can resume in compliance with Dubai Sports Council guidelines. Group sports must be adapted to minimise contact and risk.

Hannah Monk, the Assistant Head Teacher KS3 and PE Teacher of GFS, said, “We can indulge in playing more games because of the amended social distancing norms. However, all equipment must be sanitised. Last year, we could only play individual sports because of the stringent social distancing norms. The relaxation will allow us to be a little more creative and will help further develop skill-based talents.”

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