Empty classrooms, heavy hearts as Jordan shuts down to fight pandemic

Leading up to the Covid-19 crisis, the Good Shepherd Center in Jordan prepared their 72 students and families. Before schools were shut down, teachers instructed students on health hygiene so that children know to cover their coughs, wash their hands and wipe all surfaces.
After schools were closed three weeks ago, staff spent three days visiting families to provide food to cover the first days of the crisis. Teachers had planned to visit children’s homes weekly to collect their work and deliver food. Those activities are on hold, and staff can only keep in touch by phone.
It is important to note that the students were traumatized by violence in their homeland, Iraq, before arriving in Jordan. The Covid-19 crisis feels like a second major trauma, re-opening wells of deep anxiety. The current shutdown re-creates worries that they might never get back to school.
To quell fears, Principal Dawlat Hijazeen has encouraged parents to turn off the news and refrain from talking about their worries. She asks parents to actively participate in their children’s learning and shared family activities like cooking, crafts, music, and games.
“In our messages, we tell the kids we are waiting for them at school, and we love them,” Hijazeen said. “We tell them we will stay in touch, so don’t be scared.”
Our partners will inspire hope for as long as needed, Hijazeen said.