Parents, pupils and teachers in Abu Dhabi are eager to resume in-person lessons on Monday after schools switched to remote learning for the first three weeks of the new term.
Public and private schools in the capital reverted to online education at the start of January as a precautionary measure amid a surge in Covid-19 infections.
Pupils in government-run schools nationwide will return to in-person learning in phases from next week, along with all private schools in Abu Dhabi.
Children will go to classrooms for the first time this term from Monday, January 24 and Monday, January 31, depending on their year group.
“Seeing the pupils in person for the first time since the winter break will be wonderful,” said Teresa Woulfe, head of secondary at The British School Al Khubairat.
“We are ready to recommence face to face learning with a very robust PCR check system, distanced seating and a staggered return of classes.”
In-person learning is key
Mother-of-three Lara Abu Ata believes the return to classrooms is crucial to the development of pupils.
“As you know, social distancing has caused many pupils to lose part of their social interaction,” said Ms Ata, whose children attend BSAK.
“[I am looking forward to] my children undertaking their learning in a deeper way, as sometimes technology can have many technical issues that [interrupts] parts of lessons.”
Twins Omar and Zain Tashamneh, who are in the ninth year at BSAK, said they are ready to get back to campus.
“Distance learning is not [my favourite] approach to learning as it increases the amount of time we spend on our screens, decreases our social life and is challenging for us to engage in at times,” said Omar.
“I feel extremely excited to see teachers and friends again as well as returning to normal subjects and activities, whether it be a practical in a PE lesson or an experiment in science,” said Zain.
Parent Stephanie Jerron-Quarshie said it was a great relief that children were going back to school.
“My daughter is in Year 11 [at BSAK] and starts her mock exams this week, so it's an important time in her education,” she said.
“I feel that the school plans the distance learning day very well, with fun lessons and good well-being support, but still, it's tough for them to be at home and learning on their own.”
Safe return for school population
At Brighton College Abu Dhabi, school staff have gone the extra mile to welcome pupils back.
“Our dedicated team has spent a long time preparing the school for the pupils to return,” said headmistress Helen Wilkinson.
“We have stringent measures in place to ensure safety, as always, but I think the pupils will be excited to see some of the extra work that has gone into making their return very special.
“Superhero door decorations in the Pre-Prep, new grassed areas as you arrive through the main gates and some changes in the Prep school to enhance our pupils' learning environment even further.
“We hope our pupils are as excited as we are, and can't wait to have the entire school back on January 31.”
Queues reported at Covid-19 testing sites
Pupils and parents flocked for PCR tests in Abu Dhabi at the weekend after the government announced the resumption of in-person classes at schools.
Long queues were reported at Biogenix testing centre in Masdar City, as well as at other clinics in the emirate.
Pupils in government-run schools nationwide will return to in-person learning in phases, with the start date dependent on their year group.
First to return on January 24 will be kindergarten/foundation stage, Grades 1-5/Years 2-6 and Grade 12/Year 13, university students and anyone preparing for international exams.
Remote learning for Grades 6-11/Years 7-12 will continue until January 31, when all years return.
All pupils will require a PCR test result not older than 96 hours to enter school buildings. Additional tests will be needed every two weeks.