Fall 2021 School Semester remains virtual for students 11 and under

Mixed hopes on schools reopening in fall

I’d say the number one question on everyone’s mind, who is a parent with young kids living in Saudi, … Will the Ministry of Education approve kids going back to in classroom learning this fall 2021?

Many of the families we know have worried over what to do with the kids, if they aren’t having in school learning. The fatigue of virtual school and parenting is so great. Remember, Saudi has stopped in school learning since March 10th, 2020 until now, (1 1/2 years). 5 families we know have opted to have the kids and mom go back to their home country just to get the kids in school for the time being, and even to keep them there. What does this mean for expat families in Saudi? It means that as a reaction to Covid, families are being split once again, not because of travel restrictions, but over education.

3 of the 5 families have opted to permanently return to their home country, leaving the employed father in Saudi. As such they will live this way until they decide as a family, or a contract fulfillment, when the husband will return home. The other 2 families have decided for now, the husband lives in Saudi alone, until the kids can be allowed in person schooling again. Then the kids and mom will return to the Kingdom. These are hard times, and education must go on in the best way that the family decides.

Well as we are in the month of September, and school has just begun last month, in classroom learning has been approved for some students and not for others. The qualification comes down to age and vaccine status. Students who are 12 years old and have received the required 2 vaccines to have “immune” status are allowed back in class. (see the article at bottom of page) Which leaves the very youngest learners, and perhaps the ones most critically in need of in person learning, out of the classroom and back on computers for virtual school.

Personally, our family’s experience of online learning/virtual school/zoom, however you’d like to call it, was poor. My usually bright and energetic older son, became despondent and non-cooperative with the Sunday through Thursday routine of 4 live meetings a day that began on March 10th 2020, and is still in effect today. He told me that he’s just not good at virtual school, which of course broke my heart, as I understood he was missing peer cooperation, friends, real contact with a classroom and the live experience of being in a school.

My preschooler tried playfully to attend the 4 meetings, but what 4 year old is going to sit and listen to other kids, when there are 10 kids on a screen, half of them looking around, not paying attention. Even with engaging games such as “Simon Says”, I feel like virtual school for this age level is really a waste of time. They learn through play, not sitting in one place for 15 minutes. I was really disappointed in virtual school. So I feel for those of you with kids still not allowed back into the school building. It is really stunting some of the best learners and not making education a fun or desired activity.

Perhaps one thing the teachers could do, is get together with the students at the Corniche, or at Chuck E Cheese, or a trampoline park twice a week. They could do some lessons and have fun, getting to make “classroom” friends. I feel that for many this would ease the nervousness and anxiety experienced by both students and parents, and teachers. Here in Saudi kid’s public activities are open, so there are many avenues where the “class” could get together…just be creative! The parents and kids could really use this time well.

The following is an excerpt from the below article link.

“JEDDAH: Only students who have been fully jabbed against COVID-19 can go back to school once the academic year begins on Aug. 29, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education said on Sunday.

High school and middle school students who have completed their vaccination program in Saudi Arabia are set to return to the classroom by the end of the month.

Elementary and preschool students will be exempt from returning until 70 percent herd immunity has been achieved through double dosage.”

Al-Khudair, Deema. “Only fully jabbed students can return to school, says Saudi Education Ministry.” Arabnews.com, 1 Aug. 2021.


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