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Imagine this, in an alternate universe, schools close for months on end due to a global pandemic, and instead of being excited, students are worried and upset about classes being cancelled.

The only difference is, there’s no alternate universe, schools in the UAE are opting for e-learning till June to stop the spread of coronavirus, and surprisingly, generation Z is having a social media meltdown.

Gulf News broke the story that all UAE schools and universities were to implement e-leaning till June 2020 on March 11, 2020. It was confirmed by the ministry on March 30, and Gulf News was the first to break the news online, yesterday.

The post went viral, which resulted in hundreds of comments on our Instagram post, within minutes.

Missing school

Most of the comments received on the post were from children tagging friends and bursting into virtual tears at the thought of not going to school for months.

Instagram user @tripeyyyy posted: “That’s so sad, I miss school.”

User @ritusghh echoed similar sentiments and posted: “Please, I want to go back to school.”

Some users commented on missing the opportunity to learn in a classroom and being with their friends.

@ayushii.x posted: “School was the only hope to get out of our houses. I miss school.”

While user @syedomar69 used a popular social media slogan doing the rounds and said: “Go corona go.”

User @kuro_akshay acknowledged that the coronavirus outbreak has changed his perspective on school. He commented on our post and said: “Corona has changed me so much that I actually want to go to school.”

User commented on the post and said: “NOOOOOOOOOO, PLEASE”.

And user @lughindikoo posted: “No please no pleeeeeseeeee, I can’t take this tortureeeeeeeee….”

Many others used emojis to describe how they were feeling and it’s safe to say that the Gulf News comments section has never seen these many crying emojis.

Exam tension

The ministry announced on March 30 that distance learning or e-learning was to continue till June 2020 for schools and universities in the country, resulting in the closure of educational institutions till summer 2020, at least. This got a few users concerned about upcoming exams, and joked about not performing well.

Instagram user ayah_abdalla4 posted: “Okay but what about exams? Please tell me it isn’t online!”

User @nxvyaa posted: “So that means boards will be written from home? Okay I’m in...”

While we are still waiting for more clarifications in the coming days, in a surprise twist, UAE-based students are definitely missing school, and can’t wait to go back.

‘Never thought I’d say this…’

Mai Badr is a 16-year-old grade 12 student in Dubai. She was born in the UAE and started her studies in the country so going to school in Dubai has been an integral part of her life, both academically and socially.

Speaking about the recent switch schools have made to online classes, she said: “I never thought I’d miss school, but social distancing is taking a toll on my social and academic life.”

Badr misses interacting with teachers and spending time with her friends.

“I miss the facilities and getting one-on-one help from teachers when I need it the most as well as spending time with my friends,” said the British national.

Motivation factor

One of the aspects students Gulf News spoke to highlighted is the lack of motivation and the disruption in routine it has brought for school-going youngsters.

“Besides academics, it was a good social space and keeps you active. Ever since school has closed it’s been more stressful to complete school work and has made me feel lazy and inactive,” Badr said.

Dwayne Fernandes is a 17-year-old student based in Dubai who has had a similar experience with the recent changes.

Remembering the days he attended school, Fernandes said: “Looking back, regardless of how sleepy I was on some mornings and didn’t want to go, it kept me active and my mind refreshed”

The Indian national also said that teachers being physically present was a motivation factor for students and online learning can sometimes lack that.

“Being physically present in class would keep me focused on what the teachers were saying,” he said.

However, the grade 12 student appreciates the efforts schools and teachers are making to carry out e-learning.

“I truly appreciate the effort our teachers are making for us and it has been helpful as it keeps me busy and helps me remember all the concepts we’ve learnt about. It keeps me from becoming lazy,” he added.

Dwayne, like many others, hopes that the pandemic is controlled soon and everything goes back to “normal”, including his school life.

“I hope there is some change that comes along soon considering that these are our last years in school before university. I really look forward to being able to spend time with my friends and going out with them,” he said.

Students think alike worldwide

It’s not just the UAE but the trend seems to have caught on all around the world.

Twitter user @Emmaowens203 from California, US shared her thoughts online: “Never thought these words would come out of my mouth but I miss school and having school work that isn’t online.”

User @Dalpalz had similar comments and posted about missing the social aspect of going to school: “I never thought I would miss my hectic schedule of full-time school, interning, and work. But now I miss it all and feel stupid for taking for granted all the opportunities and relationships I was able to make in those places.”

Are you currently a student dealing with the recent changes due to the coronavirus pandemic? Did you ever think you would be missing going to school?