Back to School 2021: What Changed this Year?

Published August 23rd, 2021 - 05:00 GMT
Back to School 2021: What Changed this Year?
Schools, parents and students were not the only ones affected, because teachers and school staff also faced great challenges. (shutterstock)

Schools and the education system were among the most hit by the pandemic. With parents having to keep tabs on their children while studying online, schools were also struggling to make ends meet at the other end of the spectrum. And now that life is beginning to have a little sense of normalcy, many are speculating what the new school year has in store for schools and students. 

So what exactly does this year’s back to school look like? 

When it comes to education, parents usually want to provide the best for their kids. However, with the financial burden that the pandemic inflicted on many families, many are questioning whether or not private schools should increase their fees. In countries like the UAE, governments and decision makers are aware of the financial difficulties many families are going through and therefore schools in Abu Dhabi are only permitted to increase their tuition fees under exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, in a way to preserve the rights of schools, Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) stated that schools have the right to charge students the entire fee regardless of whether they are studying online or not. Schools in Dubai will not be increasing their fees for the upcoming year, and instead many schools across the UAE will be offering discounts up to 35% to show support to its students and their families.

But fees are not the only thing governments, schools and families are second guessing, because we are all concerned about the safety of kids. That’s why most countries are following strict procedures when it comes to bringing kids back to in-person learning. For instance, the Ministry of Public Health in Qatar stated that schools are to follow a hybrid model, in which in-person attendance should be restricted to 50% of the school’s capacity. Staff and teachers are also required to undergo regular testing in case they were not vaccinated. Other countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also approved in-person learning for students and staff members who are fully vaccinated. On the other hand, UAE requires all students aged 16 and above to be fully vaccinated before returning to school, whereas schools in Abu Dhabi require that 80% of school staff be vaccinated by the time the school year starts. In addition, all governments seem to agree that kids who are sick or showing any symptoms should go back to online learning until they get better. 

Schools, parents and students were not the only ones affected, because teachers and school staff also faced great challenges. Teachers had to deal with long working hours and difficult times when teaching remotely, which led many teachers to leaving their jobs, reports say. The pandemic might have been a great way for the world to realize the importance of teachers and educators and how teaching jobs tend to go underrated. Therefore, it is crucial for governments to support and appreciate teaching staff and help compensate for the difficult times they had to live through since the start of the pandemic. 

The pandemic was anything but easy on the world, and with it came consequences that the world had to adjust to. But regardless of these consequences, it is instrumental that governments work on providing the necessary means for schools to keep pushing through these difficult times.

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