Ukrainian Kids Go Back to School — With Bunkers at the Ready

These images show how kids in Ukraine are going back to school with air raid bunkers at the ready.

The first piece of footage shows a school in the Poltava region in central Ukraine ready to welcome students back to its classrooms, with the basement kitted out like a bunker should the Russians launch air raids.

The footage was obtained Wednesday from the governor of the central Ukrainian region of Poltava, Dmytro Lunin, 42, who said: "Poltava Oblast is ready for the start of the academic year in various formats. Parents choose the form of education.

Volodymyr Zelensky visits Irpen Ukraine school
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky sits by a school table with children in Irpin, Ukraine, on Thursday, September 1, 2022. Zelensky visited the rebuilt Irpin school and congratulated the first graders and their teachers on the Day of Knowledge. @zelenskiy.official/Zenger

"Our priority remains unchanged: safety. Thanks to Ukrainian defenders, children in Poltava region can study online and offline. And the best thanks from them to our soldiers is to get quality knowledge. Everything will be Ukraine."

The images were also relayed by the Poltava region.

Lunin had said on August 16: "The educational process should be minimally stressful, maximum safety and quality. September 1 is just over two weeks away. Together with my deputy Maxim Kalininin, we will go to places and check shelters in kindergartens and schools."

He added at the time: "Smaller village schools are also being prepared. Overall, the process is in full swing in the region. Some institutions have already managed the task, some continue their work. The coverings must meet the established standards.

"There should be heat, light, air conditioning, internet connection, water supplies, bathrooms. Talking about the cost of equipment is a relatively small expense for communities."

Lunin advised schools to prepare shelters, saying: "I strongly advise to take care of shelter in schools to all communities. This issue should be considered not only tactically, but also strategically. There are 533 schools in the region. A hundred and sixty of them are ready, and about 130 more in the process of preparation. The district and communities are doing everything right now to make sure schools have the right shelter. The children's safety comes first."

Volodymyr Zelensky visits Irpin Ukraine school
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and famous Ukrainian sapper dog Patron take part in a charitable postage-stamp ceremony in Irpin, Ukraine, on Thursday, September 1, 2022. Zelensky visited the rebuilt Irpin school and congratulated the first graders and their teachers on the Day of Knowledge. @zelenskiy.official/Zenger

It was announced that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited a school in the Irpin area just outside the capital Kyiv on Knowledge Day, which is September 1 in Ukraine.

Zelensky visited the secondary school, which was damaged in March during the Russian invasion and will welcome 1,300 students back, and took part in a special class.

Greeting one another with "Slava Ukraini!" ('Glory to Ukraine!'), the president talked to the schoolchildren and congratulated them, according to the Office of the President of Ukraine.

He told the schoolchildren: "School is a second home. It is very nice to see so many sunny, bright children. You are recharging us all today. It's good for you to study, good luck and all the best."

Zelensky also inspected the school's basement, which has been "set up to shelter students during air raids," according to his office.

The Office of the President also said: "Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv Regional Military Administration, told Volodymyr Zelensky, after the full-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine, 215 educational institutions were damaged in the Kyiv region, and 12 were completely destroyed. From 1 September, 412 kindergartens and 548 schools will work in the region in full-time and mixed formats. Eighty-two percent of schools have shelters."

After his visit, Zelensky said on his official Facebook account: "Knowledge Day in one of Irpen schools. The institution suffered during the fighting in March, but before the start of the new school year it was restored.

"Today our children are going to school for the first time or going back to learning, continuing their education. They will have the opportunity to see, hear, know Ukraine.

Benches stand in Ukraine school bunker
Benches stand in a bunker of a kindergarten in the Poltava region of Ukraine on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. The head of the Poltava Regional Military Administration, Dmytro Lunin, inspected bunkers in Poltava schools to prepare them for the coming school year. @lunin.official/Zenger

"We are working to ensure that every Ukrainian war-damaged educational institution resumed operations, and our children were safe and nothing prevented them from gaining knowledge."

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what the Kremlin is still calling a "special military operation." Friday marks the 191st day of the war.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.