These Are Confusing Times
If you’re confused about UK Schools Reopening then you’re not alone. It seems that new information appears almost daily.
While much is still unknown about the Coronavirus, current research indicates young children (between 5 and 14 years of age) may be at a lower risk of falling ill but may spread the virus even if they do not show symptoms. Older pupils are at a greater risk to contract the virus. It is still unclear whether staff in school settings are at a greater risk for contracting the virus from young students.
UK Schools Reopening – New Protocols
To compound the confusion, separate rules apply to Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England, each having separate UK schools reopening schedules depending on regional guidelines. Even schools within one region might not be able to follow the same schedule, depending on the degree of local virus cases.
Students will have to learn new rules as they return to the classroom. Hygiene will need to be improved, especially hand washing, and social distancing introduced. However, the practicality of children staying 2 metres away from each other has been questioned. Where students used to change classrooms throughout the day, teachers may be changing classrooms while the students stay put. Many students will also be eating lunch in their classrooms.
Anyone who has been around children for any length of time realizes the amount of energy they exude. One may question the feasibility of students staying in one classroom all day without the ability to move around as much as they did preCOVID. While there will still be leisure time, new rules will be outlined for this time as well regarding distancing and shared equipment.
Pupils are eager to get out of their houses, where they have spent the majority of the past three months on lock-down, to see their school friends. But they will not be able to greet their friends the same way they could before COVID. Students will need to adhere to strict guidelines set forth by their local authorities.
Keeping Children, Staff and Families Safe
Year groups in England have set dates to partially re-open. Primary schools returned on 1 June with a variable level of attendance. Secondary schools have been allowed to reopen for Years 10 and 12 since 15 June, but not all primary and secondary schools have reopened depending on local advice. The Welsh education minister approved a return to school during the week of 29 June with a third of pupils allowed into schools at any one time. This three or four week “introductory period” will be spent preparing students for their new blended learning schedule, part in the classroom and part at home, to begin in September.
One thing is for sure, whenever we see the UK Schools Reopening they need to do so as safely as possible to protect not only students, but also staff and family members at home. Most young children love to touch things and be close to other people, while also tending to put their hands in their mouths. Increased hand hygiene will need to be stressed by staff members and parents alike.
Each school has a different layout with varied numbers of hand washing facilities. Most schools will not have adequate facilities for the diligent hygiene required to keep communities safe and healthy. The number of hand wash stations and sanitisation / cleaning stations will need to be increased since students are being advised to wash their hands when they arrive at school, when they leave school, before and after handling food and any objects used by others. Teachers will also need to wipe surfaces often. Objects and equipment used by multiple children and staff will need to be sanitized as well.
Because there is still so much to learn about the Coronavirus, all parties need to remain flexible while steps are taken to for UK schools reopening to be as quickly, yet safely, as possible.