Back to school in UAE: Educators brace for growing challenges among senior students Filed on August 29, 2021
KT Photo (for illustrative purposes): Ryan Lim

Being away from classrooms for so long may have caused impairment of social skills, experts believe

UAE educators are reiterating the need to address the emotional challenges of senior pupils in the new school year that started on Sunday after distance learning had become the norm due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.

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

“The senior pupils have been more vulnerable, 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 a long time, which may have impaired their social skills. This is the critical challenge for me as a veteran educator, like many of us across the world.”

Earlier this morning, schools welcomed their pupils, as in-classroom lessons resumed after a two-month summer break.

The ubiquitous yellow buses heralding happy days were seen plying the roads again, as institutions adhered to all Covid-related safety protocols.

Sunday was set aside for the new pupils’ induction programme.

Traffic peaked during rush hour, as marshals were seen directing the public at signals outside schools in a bid to avoid jams.

As students arrived at their schools — either via school buses or own transport — greetings and fist bumps were everywhere as all precautionary norms continued to be followed and pupils reunited with their friends.

Several school principals personally supervised the arrangements while welcoming students back.


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Parents, who dropped off their children, were urged to avoid crossing school grounds, if possible, in a bid to keep the contagion at bay.

Schools also put up signage to ensure adequate social distancing and carried out rigorous sanitisation programmes ahead of the reopening today.

Data showed that over 295,000 pupils returned to over 209 private schools in Dubai since December last year.

Nandini Sircar

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