Fighting coronavirus: Several UAE students continue distance learning from the safety of their homes


No bags to arrange and no snacks to be packed, but what remained was the excitement for another year of new learning adventures.

For majority of students in the UAE, this year’s first day of school was entirely different from what they were used to: They woke up early, washed up, had their breakfast, opened their laptops and off they went – tapping and typing their way to their classes.

No bags to arrange and no snacks to be packed, but what remained was the excitement for another year of new learning adventures.

Several students and parents Khaleej Times spoke to said they would continue sitting for distance learning classes “until the Covid-19 situation improves”.

“I am waiting for the daily number of cases in the UAE to go down to two-digit numbers. I will be opting for distance learning classes for the rest of the academic year,” said Amal Sameer, a Grade 8 student of Delhi Private School (DPS) – Sharjah.

Many of her peers also feel this way, she added. “Most of us do not want to take any risks, even though we really miss being on-campus. The school environment is very different now. I do not feel as connected to my teachers and classmates in a virtual class.”

Despite the ‘distance’, most have gotten used to the e-learning set-up and enjoyed their first day of classes online.

Iram Rizvi, an Indian parent with two children at GEMS Winchester School – Jebel Ali, said:
“I have two children – Mishal Faraz,13, and Mir, 6. I have decided to continue 100 per cent distance education for both my kids. There are several reasons for this decision. The Covid-19 situation is ever-evolving and fluid in nature. My kids have adapted well to distance learning. Asking them to transition again to another system is not something I want them to go through.”

Iram added that children do learn new skills in a virtual learning environment. “The digital skills of my kids have vastly improved and they are having fun submitting assignments online.”

Her son also suffers from asthma, which puts him at a greater risk in case he contracts the virus.

Another parent in Dubai, Simimol Raijo, said distance learning allowed her kids to keep each other company.

“My daughter Aashika is a Year 8 student and my son is Aidden is in Year 3. Both are in separate schools. In my daughter’s school, they have offered a mix of blended learning and total distance education.”

Keeping them together at home was a practical choice, she said. “On the days when she does not have to go to school, she will be alone at home. In this way, her brother can keep her company. Since I am working and so is my husband, this encourages our kids to become more independent,” Simimol said.

The mother admits that e-learning does come with challenges for working parents.

“Schools use different online infrastructure for classes. My son uses an application called Seesaw and my daughter uses MS Teams. When I am not at home, my daughter has to help my son use the app,” she said.

Commenting on when she would like her kids to return to school, she said: “It is a big question mark. Safety is also important. By mid-term, I will decide what needs to be done.”