“They have grown up.”

Play is central to the syllabus, Rudakova said, as they try to make learning as enjoyable as possible.

The teachers dance a careful ballet around topics that could unsettle their students. In classes where children have lost their fathers, mentions of dads are carefully navigated, Rudakova told CNN.

School is now more important than ever, Rudakova said. But as much as the metro school is a haven, it’s not the school the kids really want.

“They always say that they want peace and to return to their old school, which has everything for children: play areas, a sports hall, and a dining room,” Rudakova said.

“They understand what’s going on.”