KUWAIT: Students attend class at schools around Kuwait yesterday. - Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat, Fouad Al-Shaikh and KUNA

KUWAIT: Thousands of students across Kuwait returned yesterday to their classes as the country decided to reopen schools after 19 months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a smile on his face, Ali Al-Mhana, a 10th grader, wears his school uniform and a face mask waiting for his friends outside the school in Hawally Governorate. "I will meet all my friends again. I never thought I would say that, but I missed school," he told Xinhua.

Mhana wasn't the only one expecting to return to school. Reem Amro, who will be in 12th grade, expresses happiness of going back to school after months of lockdowns and boredom. "At first, we were happy when schools were suspended. It was a vacation, but after months I started to be bored and lost connection with many friends due to the coronavirus pandemic where there were no visits and meetups," Amro said.

For the first time, Alia Al-Edwan, a housewife, spent hours on the traffic jam to reach her daughter's school. "I used to stay at home and make activities for my children inside the home, but now I have to deal with the outside world again," she said. Edwan added that e-learning was good for her family as she used to have full supervision of her daughter during classes.

However, for Hannah Al-Essawi, a mother of a student, e-learning wasn't a successful move. "Children have suffered enormous setbacks in their learning journey. Most students weren't paying attention to the teacher during class, homework was cancelled, and no sports activities to evolve the child's character," she complained.

Iman Al-Taki, a teacher, said that traditional and direct education is much better than distance education since the student is under the supervision of the teacher and also the student can focus and ask the teacher about the curriculum. The Ministry of Education has developed a plan aiming to provide a safe educational environment by applying health requirements and implementing a plan that includes social distancing, reducing the number of students in classes, and not allowing the unvaccinated to enter without a weekly negative PCR test certificate.

Parents welcomed the return of schools, but some of them complained about the weekly PCR test as it is an extra cost because most of them have more than one child. As a resumption plan, the ministry decided to divide the school students into two groups, where the first attend on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, while the other attends on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the days are switched between the two groups weekly. - Xinhua