The government guidelines as of last week suggested that primary school children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will start returning to school from 1st June 2020. My youngest son is in year 1, so my husband and I had a decsion to make; do we tick the yes box on the return to school survey or no.
For us the answer was easy, we said no. My children will not be returning to school until September 2020 and even then, they will be coated in anti-bacterial gel, face masks and Unigloves to protect them from germs! This decision is right for us and I thought I would put some of my personal thoughts on paper on how we came to this decision.
Firstly, I adore the school my sons go to. The staff are amazing, they’ve got the best of the best when it comes to headteachers and the whole feel of the school is just wonderful. I have no issue at all that the school wouldn’t do everything in their power to protect my children.
My issue is, the government looking at only the safety aspect of the children and staff in regard to the spread of Coronavirus. I have seen no mention of how this is going to affect the emotional wellbeing of the children (or staff).
Last year my boy’s school trialled cutting lunchtime by 10 mins to allow more time for teaching, that small change ended up with my boys hardly eating any of their lunch as they felt rushed in the lunch hall and they would rather use the time they had to run around and play with their friends than eat the lovingly prepared packed lunch that I made for them. Those lost 10 minutes had such an effect on so many of the children that the school decided to revert back to the original longer lunch break. Imagine what a big change may do?
Just imagine, if coronavirus was never a thing… but schools made the changes they are going to have to on 1st June; small groups that can’t mix, only a small area of the playground to play in, no fun toys like sand, water or playdough, no soft furnishings or wall displays, no sharing, no working in pairs, having to stand 2 meters away from their teacher, a teacher which they may not know and only being allowed to go around the school in a one-way system. There would be absolute uproar! It would be deemed cruel, children need to be children, they need to play, especially the little ones, they need space and they need to burn off energy. Now factor in a deadly virus… one that can’t be seen but can be shared quite easily, how can you tell a 4, 5 or 6-year-old to stop playing with their friend, stop touching their face, keep washing their hands? My Year 1 son missed the last 2 days of school before lockdown due to getting a tummy bug, which he caught from school. The tummy bug affected a number of children, all whilst the school was being disinfected daily and children were washing their hands until they were raw… the bug still spread!
My other main reason is, why does the government deem it safe for my child to return to school but can not go visit their grandparents? Until we are allowed to visit and stay with family, will I then feel it is safe enough for my children to mix with other children and adults (many of which I will not know if they are sticking to the rules of social distancing).
I work from home so it is an easier option for me, some people are key workers so need to rely on schools in order to help others and some children are vulnerable and are safer at school than they are at home. By all means, i think these children should be in school without the risk of lots of other children joining them. It is still too soon, the virus is still volatile and even the experts do not know what it is capable of becoming.
It is hard homeschooling as there is the worry that the children are not learning as they would at school, but like a number of my teacher friends have highlighted to me, our children are getting 1 to 1 support at home and also have emotional stability. Children also have the ability to drive a grown adult insane, it’s not easy but I don’t feel that sending them back to school to have a break is a good decision, whilst COVID-19 numbers are still high.
I am seeing the positive in all this, I am getting to experience a side of parenting I never thought I would, I can only be grateful to have this extra special time with my boys. So for now, we are going to stay in our safe little bubble for a little while longer.