Covid-Closure — the student perspective

Christine Nasserghodsi
3 min readMar 4, 2020


By Dwayne Castro, Tiago Grilo, and Joe Walker, Year 12 Students

We are student interns at Mirai Partners, a learning innovations group, through the Rahhal program in Dubai, UAE. In this post, we will share our questions, concerns, and insights regarding school closures due to COVID-19. We hope that schools across the United Arab Emirates will find this helpful as they rapidly shift to fully digital learning.

We woke up this morning to the headline Schools in the UAE to be closed for 4 weeks due to the spread of COVID-19 splashed across Snapchat and our WhatsApp groups. After fact-checking on local news sites, we had a range of responses. Most students would read this and go ecstatic at first. This is how we felt at the start. But then, reality set in. We would be off for 4 weeks, come back and begin our exams a few weeks after.

First, we should clarify that we trust our school, GEMS FirstPoint. We use a virtual learning environment to support our studies. The school managed to set work for us on rain dates. That said, we had many, many concerns about the situation, most of them being academic. We wondered if we would have support from teachers to get the exam grades we aspire to achieve. Creative students who take subjects such as art, drama, Design Technology and various others, will feel the impact of the school closure on a higher level. They have coursework to do that can’t be completed online. Moreover, there are specific materials and tools needed for students in these creative subjects, such as in DT, to complete final projects.

At the same time, schools need to consider health concerns including mental, physical and social well-being. Being on a device all day long can deteriorate anyone’s health rapidly. Students will need to have tasks in which they don’t need their devices, to get them moving and doing something different. Tasks could also involve parents, siblings or other close family members so the students aren’t as isolated from people. These activities could easily improve all aspects of their wellbeing during this period.

As students, we know that this is a difficult time for leadership teams and staff to come up with solutions. Communication is key in a situation just like this one. We, as students, would like to be able to talk with teachers efficiently and consistently, in order to understand the tasks set and to be kept informed of updates and changes.

Student support is also important in this situation and we are fortunate enough to be in a school where this is possible. By this, we mean that students are willing to help each other with various tasks, so teachers and parents aren’t the only lines of contact for students. These various tasks could include online tutoring/mentoring, sharing resources, or even just setting up a group online game to socialize.

In summary, we are hopeful that all schools will help students adjust to learning online and achieving their goals. We know this will be a tough time for students, staff, teachers, leadership and the parents; however, we have to unite as a community to facilitate learning at this time.

In the meantime, here are a few suggestions:

1) Clearly communicate when students and teachers are expected to be online.

2) Make sure that secondary students are included in any emails about assignments or expectations. Parents who are at work may not be able to send these to us on time.

3) Make sure all students can access online work, even if this means posting it directly to your website.

4) Ask students what questions and needs they have today so that you can address them before students leave tomorrow.

5) Ask students for help and ideas. We’re ready to contribute.