Experts offer health tips as kids return to school

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on August 29, 2021
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Pupils have to balance learning and education with health and safety

Parents and teachers must be patient with children as they adapt to another new normal

Returning to school is different this academic year as students have to balance their learning and education with their health and safety.

Also read: Covid-19 in UAE: Dubai schools to reopen canteens

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While teachers have to make sure Covid-19 protocols put in place are followed, students must remember the importance of these precautionary measures like wearing a mask at all times, maintaining social distance, and frequently washing and sanitising their hands.

To ensure a healthy transition back to school, physicians from across the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) network have shared their advice and tips.

Dr Doaa Barakat, consultant child psychiatry, Al Ain Hospital, said: “Adopting a daily routine is very important for children, especially as they get used to being back at school. Children have become accustomed to different routines and study patterns during the past two years and so both parents and teachers need to be patient with children as they adapt to another new normal.

“The first couple of weeks might seem difficult as their entire routine - right from bedtime to lunchtime - will become more rigid. Students in junior and secondary levels may be able to adapt quicker as they would be resetting to an old routine, one they are familiar with. However, some children in primary and kindergarten will be attending in-person school for the first time and might take longer to adapt.”

The health expert noted that open and frequent communication between parents and teachers is advised to make sure their child is acclimating to in-person learning to the best of their ability. “Teachers must guide students and break down the syllabus into shorter lessons with frequent breaks and activities, rewarding students who are abiding by the rules and regulations in place,” added Barakat.

Dr Hisham Zidan, ENT specialist physician, Al Towayya Children’s Specialty Center, Ambulatory Healthcare Services, said: “We recommend parents bring in their children for ENT exams during the first week of school – children have been attending school virtually for the past two years with hours in front of the screen and with headphones in their ears. We must examine youngsters to ensure no short or long-term impact to their ears.”

For Dr Bakr Akram Al-Alousi, dentist, Al Towayya Children’s Specialty Center, Ambulatory Healthcare Services, parents must ensure that children as young as one year old visit their paediatric dentist for regular checkups as dental health is vital to a child’s overall wellbeing.

“Dental issues might affect students’ ability to concentrate in class and might be a cause to miss school. Both parents and teachers must remind children on the importance of dental hygiene – brushing their teeth after meals and avoiding sodas and candy – replacing them with healthy fruits, milk and vegetables. However, it is important to not drink milk before sleeping as lactose is a sugar and as we know sugar should be avoided before bed,” said Al-Alousi.

Dr Noura Al Alawi, nutritionist, Al Towayya Children’s Specialty Center, Ambulatory Healthcare Services, said: “Children must get routine checks to monitor overall growth and identify and treat any medical issues at an early stage. Unfortunately, sometimes summer holidays negatively impact children in terms of lack of mobility and a healthy diet. As children return to school, parents need to encourage healthy eating habits with home-made balanced meals, avoiding junk food. It is also important for them to remain active, encouraging play time away from the screen.”


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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