Lessons begin at Ukraine's first underground school

STORY: For some children in Ukraine's Kharkiv, the school day now begins with a twenty feet decent down concrete staircases and through blast doors to classrooms beneath the city.

This is the war torn country's first purpose-built underground school designed to protect students from Russian drone and missile attacks.

The return to in-person learning in windowless classrooms brings smiles to children's faces and relief to parents.

Until now, lessons had been online or frequently interrupted by air raid sirens and evacuations to safe places.

Headmaster Ihor Voznyi says the difference is immense.

"It is like day and night, our schools do not have shelters, there are basements, underground spaces which are totally inadequate to conduct any teaching. The spaces here are designed to provide quality, modern spaces."

The school will eventually operate two shifts over the day for 900 pupils in total.

Parents told Reuters they couldn't wait for the opening day.

"I am very happy that my kids have the opportunity to come to school, socialize with their class mates and teachers. My elder daughter, a third grader couldn't wait to come here, dress up for the occasion, meet her friends that she missed very much. For my son, who is a first grader, it is like a festive day, a chance to meet his class mates in real life, not online and play with them."

Kharkiv has been under relentless Russian attack since Moscow's invasion was halted at its ramparts 26 months ago.

In recent weeks the fighting has grown closer and the airstrikes more constant.

The city's mayor hopes three more underground schools will be built in the area, as a population under attack continually adapts its daily life.