After having pretty much six months at home our children returned to school almost two weeks ago - so, what is school life like in the UK during a global pandemic?
Myself and my husband both work in a primary school, my husband has worked throughout the Coronavirus lockdown as a caretaker - going from 15 key worker children in school at the beginning of lockdown up to about 150 when I returned to work in June. Now our school is back to about 540 pupils.
One way systems
Different classes are collected and dropped-off in different areas to reduce any overcrowding - people are supposed to follow a one-way system through the playground (most do, some don't).
No assembly and more break times
As they can't all gather in the hall there is no assembly. They are also avoiding using corridors so pupils are using the fire escapes from classrooms to leave the building. They spend a lot more time out on the field too.
They are now washing their hands many, many times a day, especially after break times and before and after lunch. Some teachers stand at the door with hand sanitiser and each child gets a squirt as they come back inside.
Each child has their own stationery set to avoid sharing.
Hot dinners are delivered to each classroom in takeaway boxes, each class will eat in their classroom. The tables are disinfected before and after the children eat. Once the last child in each year group has finished eating the children are led out to the field to play in the year group bubble. The "bubbles" are separated by plastic tape and children are not allowed to go into another year group bubble.
Tables are front facing (very Victorian) there is no room to leave spaces between them so the kids do sit next to each other.
The kids now go to school wearing their kit on the days they have PE rather than changing at school. I actually think this is a great new rule.
Years 7 to 9 go to school for 8.30 and years 10 and 11 at 8.50am to avoid congestion. Different year groups are in different buildings when they can be - they also work as year group bubbles and cannot mix with other year groups.
This has not changed they still take their kit in and get changed at school.
The kids are encouraged to take a packed lunch and avoid the canteen - if they do use the canteen they have to wear a mask inside. It sounds like lots of the kids are eating on the field.
They are still having these in the hall as their year groups (sitting right next to each other).
Six person rule
Outside of school the kids have been asked to observe the six person rule - so no more than 6 in a group if you are walking home.
So, how are they finding it all? Good, in general so far. My daughter in year 10 would prefer it if she could see friend's in other year groups. My son in year 4 is happy that they get a lot of break times. As a member of staff it is pretty stressful trying to adapt to the ever changing rules. I work at lunch times and just making sure the right food boxes reach the right children is hard work let alone making sure the classrooms are clean after 30 kids have eaten at their desks.
Rules seem to change weekly - this post is a little something for us to look back on in the future. I wonder if any of the new ways will stay?!