Published: 2021-02-07 09:53
Last Updated: 2021-04-15 03:15
Editor: Priyanka Navani
At Fatima Zahran school in Madaba, students are returning to their classes for the first time in nearly a year.
Judging by their fresh pigtails, jubilant grins, and accompanying frantic mothers, it could be a normal first day of school, not a February Royal directive-guided reopening after a global pandemic initially made schools unsafe.
Inside classrooms, however, the feel is far from normal: desks are methodically separated meters apart, hand sanitizer stands dot every corner of the room, and children barely able to understand multiplication tables, let alone a pandemic, are clad with masks.
But to Haya Al Ka'ada, an English teacher at the school, the new normal is much preferred to any other alternative.
“I’m very happy to meet my students,” said Al Kaa'da, while speaking on the difficulties the school faced with online learning.
According to her, computers and internet access were not widely available, making the learning process complicated and difficult for both her and her students.
Jordanian Minister of Education Tayseer al-Nuaimi said in December that remote learning included 'societal, human and technological' difficulties,’ but that the Ministry of Education (MoE) was generally proud of its online learning platform, which does not allow for live teaching. He reported that 91 percent of students entered the online platform, though no figures are available for the amount of students who consistently attended classes.
But the MoE, and teachers and administrators who spoke to Roya at Fatima Zahran, hope that in-person school is here to stay, which authorities say will only be possible with rigorous adherence to health and safety precautions.
Between King Hussein’s Jan. 13 directive to reopen schools and now, the MoE’s Accountablity Committee conducted safety visits to nearly 5,500 private and public schools to ensure their readiness for receiving students. They’ve also authored a guide on a safe return to school; trained teachers to respond to the detection of a coronavirus case; and are working on providing psychological support for students.
The Ministry is also taking its time to ease students back into learning. K-2 students, in addition to Tawjihi students, went back to school Sunday. Second graders will go back to school Feb. 8, followed by third graders on Feb. 9. Grades 4-9 will return March 7, and grades 10-11 will begin Feb. 21.
Students will alternate between in-person learning and online learning, except if the school has less than 15 students, wherein students will be permitted to attend in-person classes every day. Tawjihi students will also return to classes daily.
The understanding that grades 4-11 will attend in-person classes will be reassesed daily depending on the coronavirus situation in the Kingdom.
Minister of Health Nathir Obeidat previously stated that the daily PCR positivity rate must be under five percent for sectors to reopen. For the last month, it has hovered around that amount, stepping over five only a handful of times.
To Kaa'da, the decision of whether or not schools will remain open is one not only in the hands of authorities, but students and staff themselves.
“I expect our people... to help the school.”
Despite calls to prioritize teachers in the Jordanian vaccination campaign, most do not know when they will be able to get the coronavirus jab.
The ministry indicated that it can be contacted for informatiton and inquiries by concerned parties and parents on the phone and fax numbers of the operations room at the Ministry of Education / Ministry Center: 065662475 - 065692368 - 065699916 - Fax 065666492 - 0791881439 - 0791881450 - 0791881434 - 0791881435 - 0791881434 - 071881435 - 0791881477 - 0771881477 070927905 - 070097192 - 0794142880 - 0795561995 - 0795070577.At Fatima Zahran school in Madaba, students are returning to their classes for the first time in nearly five months.