Busy roads in the morning, children in uniforms and parents in a rush — all signs suggested it was the first day of school in the UAE on Monday.
At Dubai British School in Jumeirah Park, nervous but excited pupils entered classrooms after a two-month summer break.
Teachers in the primary and secondary section greeted their pupils enthusiastically as the new academic year began.
Melis Soltay, 9, was eagerly rushing into the school building to begin Year 5.
“I am happy to be in school. It is my second year at this school and I like all my teachers,” she said.
“I like classroom learning. It was not fun in remote learning because I couldn’t see my teachers or friends.”
Many children’s faces lit up when they saw their teachers and friends, thrilled that in-person learning had resumed after the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With a population of about 1,700 pupils, the school also offers the option of distance learning in special cases.
Year 7 pupil Aryan Singh, 12, has been enrolled in the school for six years and prefers classrooms over remote learning.
“Attending school in-person is better because we are fully focused on learning and there are no distractions,” he said.
“Also, we get to socialise more with our friends and teachers. It is not as much fun online.”
Parents dropping off their children at school were also relieved that things “almost felt normal again”.
Namratha Bhandary, parent of Year 1 pupil Vedant, said it was her son’s first time in a classroom, after two years of remote learning.
“He is so excited. He had orientation the other day and got lots of toys and met kids to play with, so he is very happy to be in school,” she said.
“It is his first time in a school after two years of remote learning, but he is not nervous at all. He is very curious and is looking forward to being inside a classroom, where he can engage with teachers and other pupils.”
Vice principal Amy Falhi said that primary and secondary school pupils prefer to be back in classrooms.
“So, everyone is extremely excited that we are all back in the building,” she said.
“Community is a really important part of our school life here. It is also amazing to have parents back in the building.
“Our school canteen and cafe is now open again for parents, which means that we can just have those really important partnerships and connections with them.”