Back to school during the coronavirus outbreak
Since the closure of schools across the UK on the 23rd of March the majority of pupils have been staying at home under lockdown measures. Three months on, we are beginning to see movement to encourage pupils back into the classroom but as parents does this make you feel uneasy? Or maybe are you relieved that things are slowly returning to normal? During unprecedented times the road back to school may be a bumpy one.
UK children returning to school after lockdown
Under PM Boris Johnson, the government attempted to begin the transition of primary pupils back into schools across England from the 1st of June. This was met with mixed response. In fact, only around half of schools reopened after they were authorised to do so. Figures also showed that of those children who could have re-entered school around three quarters did not.
The families of England made it clear that June was too soon. Molly, a concerned mother says:
“Until it is safe for Parliament to sit next to each other and until it’s ‘safe’ to cuddle your own blood mother, then how is it deemed safe to mix your children with numerous other households?”.
Plans to reintroduce school in England has been postponed until September. Wales is set to return their kids the end of June allowing a third of pupils in schools at any one time.
It is certainly conceivable that children will find it difficult to socially isolate when brought together with classmates. Especially in younger grades. So how will children be kept safe on their return?
What strategies will schools implement to control the spread of covid?
Classrooms accross the UK have been redesigned. The children have been organised in rows separate and facing in one direction rather than pushed together in groups or one large desk. Break times will be staggered to small groups preventing our nations kids from interacting with many friends simultaneously. In fact, each class is tasked with carrying its own risk assessment. This may be attributed to the range of classroom shapes, sizes and resources that can be found across the UK.
And what about social distancing? Most classrooms now have a maximum of 15 . Teachers should are now set with the task of not only teaching but maintaining a healthy learning environment. Schools are under no illusion that younger pupils will be able to maintain a 2 meter distance at all times. Young children are so tactile this would be an impossible task! Putting an emphasis on thorough and frequent hand washing as well as binning tissues are strategies highlighted in a recent report. Even taking lessons outdoors might be a tactic used to make the class safe.
The Scottish government is planning to reintroduce full time education without social distancing. But will parents be comfortable with that? Or will they keep their kids at home as in the case of England from 1st of June?
Is returning my child to school safe?
This is the most crucial aspect of when and how to send our nations children back to school isn’t it? A recent report highlights that the severity of Covid-19 in children is luckily almost always milder. And children up to the age of 13 are far less likely to even show any symptoms at all. It’s also looking very likely that children are less prone to become infected than adults. Information is limited at this time but does offer some comfort in terms of the safety of our young people.
Looking at the experiences further afield, 22 European counties have reopened their schools and have not experiences a significant increase in infections of coronavirus among children, parents or school staff. Many countries had more cases to begin with so how this relates to each other is complex.
Is sending your children back to school optional?
What feels like an impossible decision has to be made. Do you continue to keep your little ones at home? Keep home schooling? Or send them in to the professionals with the perceived added risk? Legally, parents are free to home school their children as they wish. On the basis that they are in full time education from the age of 5. We have not ever had to face such decisions so understandably tensions are running high. There are parents who are even feeling “shamed” for their decision to send their child back;
Why should I send my children back after lockdown?
The reasons some parents are keen to send their child back into education are important to consider. Sadly, many children live in poverty in the UK. School meals are crucial for the well being of such children. Children with additional needs are often provided with facilities they cannot receive at home. Children will benefit from a more structured day back at school and a bit of normality. For parents the mental cost of looking after children at home and working from home without a break for months is likely exhausting. Sending children back to school, even a few days a week will provide a much needed respite for parents who are may be feeling overwhelmed.
Getting ready to send your children back?
If you have made the decision to send your children back to school we have a range of useful tools that might help. If you want to make sure that your child doesn’t pick up the wrong pencil or pen we have handy mini labels that might help to prevent mix ups. Or our personalised cases with pencils.
Also, so often we hear from teachers and assistants that they could clothe an army from their lost property box. We know that kids lose stuff so that’s why our handy back to school packs are available to give you piece of mind. When they go back to school their new jumper or cardigan won’t disappear and you wont end up washing the entire classes P.E kit!