Many schools in Dubai went online on Friday as heavy rains and thunderstorms hit all seven Emirates. Lightning streaked across the dawn sky and thunder boomed as high-speed winds brought showers over several areas.

School heads sent out emails to parents early on the day, informing them about the switch to distance learning.

"Due to inclement weather conditions, all lessons will be conducted via Zoom for today," one school said in an email to parents. "Students who have already boarded the bus will be dropped back home."

In an email to parents, the principal of another Dubai-based school apologised to parents for moving the classes online at short notice, blaming the "rapidly worsening weather conditions" for the move.

"I am sorry about this and any inconvenience it may cause but as I am sure you will agree, safety is paramount," the principal said.

Another school principal said she decided to suspend in-person classes as she was concerned about students' safety while travelling to the campus.

Parents frantically made arrangements to keep their children home on the school day. Many others were relieved that schools had gone online.

Ajman resident and teacher in a Dubai school Hisn Al Ahmed said she was waiting for her school bus when she got a notification that classes had been shifted online. “I was relieved,” said the Syrian expat. “My children go to school in Sharjah, so they have the day off on Friday and were sleeping soundly. I was relieved that I didn’t have to go to school in the rainy weather. Last time it rained, I was stuck in the bus for three hours on my way back. I was really grateful that we have the system to do online school when necessary.”

Mother of two, Tayyaba Anwar, had decided to keep her children home even before she received communication from school. “Our school is in a low-lying area and the last time it rained, it took me more than an hour to bring them back home even though we live only five minutes away from school,” she said. “So, I decided not to take them to school."

Anticipating the foul weather, authorities in three Emirates - Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah - had directed schools to shift to distance learning for today.

The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) reported heavy downpour over several areas across all seven Emirates early on the day. The Met office has issued code orange and yellow alerts, signifying hazardous weather conditions.

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