After months of remote schooling and a long and uncertain summer, schools have now reopened to all age groups in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For many, going back to school may be a welcome change, for others it’s cause for concern.
What you need to know
To ensure a safe return to school, the Government have provided coronavirus protection and control guidance for staff and pupils to implement in educational settings. This includes:
- Minimising contact with individuals who are showing symptoms of coronavirus, or have been in contact with someone who is
- Cleaning your hands (with soap and water or hand sanitiser) thoroughly when arriving at school, when you return from breaks, when changing rooms, and before and after eating or handling food
- Covering your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze and immediately clean your hands
- Introduce enhanced cleaning of shared areas and surfaces
- Minimising contact between individuals and maintain social distancing where possible. For example, introducing altered classroom layouts, staggered break times etc
- Wear PPE when necessary. However, PPE is only necessary in a small number of cases, such as if an individual becomes ill with coronavirus symptoms and a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained
For many parents, sending their children back to school during the coronavirus outbreak is understandably worrying. While schools seem to be trying their best to maintain safety protocols, we know this can easily fall by the wayside on a busy school day. Enforcing these new rules and regulations will be a challenge for staff, especially those supervising young children. Personally, my memory of being a young child at school is of lots of hands-on, messy fun, with little emphasis on hand-washing!
New research released by YouGov finds that 1 in 6 parents are so worried about the coronavirus risk to their families, they may keep their children at home. However, the education secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed that parents choosing to keep their children out of school, for coronavirus fears or otherwise will face fines.
For other families, the children returning to school could be a relief after months of home schooling in a cramped environment. Children without a peaceful home life will likely welcome the change of scenery. Other children have missed school and are keen to be back socialising with their friends.
In short, it’s complicated. Unfortunately no one has the answers. So here’s to trial and error! Everything crossed that it works out for us all.