Back to School and the Challenge to Make Education Safe

The New Term
 
The arrival of September has also seen the Autumn term commence in schools and colleges across England. As with many aspects of daily life at the moment, things look a little different in our children’s classrooms.

These changes are the result of significant work by schools, staff and local authorities to ensure that educational environments are as safe as possible. So far the feedback has been positive..

There were always going to be concerns surrounding the reopening of our schools and colleges but the raft of measures put in place to protect children, staff and parents has done a lot to allay the fears of parents.

 
What Has Changed..?
 
It is important to remember that every school and college is different. Each one faces their own unique challenges in how they apply the safety measures needed to conform to government guidance and best practice.

Factors such as location, parking & drop-off facilities, building design and student numbers all vary wildly from school to school. Every Senior Leadership Team has been talking regularly to their neighbouring schools and external agencies. This has resulted in a range of effective common measures aimed at keeping everyone safe.

Social bubbles will continue to play a big part of school life, particularly in primary education. With classes or entire years staying together throughout the day. Taking lunch, break times and lessons as a group, separate from other classes or year groups. Careful planning has also gone into limiting their movement around schools during the day. Classrooms have been completely rearranged to allow for social distancing and limited numbers.

Secondary education has seen a range of similar changes with staggered start and finish times. This ensures communal areas stay as quiet as possible at key times. Improved bus services also allow for social distancing.

Assemblies, historically a traditional start to the school day are held virtually and available to students via their school’s online learning platform.

Sixth form and vocational colleges have faced a slightly different challenge. This is due to the majority of their learners having a greater degree of independence. Particularly during lunch times or independent study sessions. Many colleges have adopted a policy for staff and learners to wear protective face coverings in all communal areas such as food halls and corridors. Some even have protective screening in classrooms and workshops.

Many have also split their classes into two separate groups. One working remotely from home whilst their peers attend campus, then swapping over for the following week. This effectively halves the number of learners on campus at any given time.

 
COVID Protocol
 
Every school and college has also introduced clear policies on how to deal with children and staff who might display symptoms of COVID-19. These include immediate reporting, isolation rooms and PPE available when needed. Along with enhanced cleaning and the widespread availability of hand sanitisers, face masks and visors.

All these changes planned and implemented during what has been a busy summer have been welcomed by parents and staff alike. As well as the children who had already missed a significant amount of their curriculum.

With schools and colleges now operating as safely as they can be, parents can be reassured. Children are enjoying the many benefits of being back at school once again. Whats more in an environment designed to keep them as safe and healthy as possible.