Parents all over the UK will breathe a sigh of relief after the government revealed its plans for schools to open to all pupils from September.
As a result of the coronavirus crisis, schools across the country closed their doors to students except children of key workers on March 23rd. Since then, have been able to welcome back those in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from the beginning of June if they had enough space to make sure pupils could socially distance themselves from one another.
However, this has meant parents of children in all other year groups, including secondary school, have had to continue homeschooling their youngsters for the last three months.
Therefore, they will be relieved to hear education secretary Gavin Williamson is confident all pupils will be able to return to their school from September.
Mr Williamson stated: “Nothing can replace being in the classroom, so ever since schools, colleges and nurseries closed to most children, we have been working hard to ensure they can reopen as soon as possible.”
In fact, he reportedly told MPs: “Those who stand in the way of children being able to return to school are standing in the way of the best interests of those children who are from the most deprived backgrounds and need the, most help and most support.”
He said councils, organisations and parents who blocked the move to get children back in the classroom would be penalised.
Of course, mums and dads will be concerned of their children’s safety, which is why schools could make changes that reduce the chance of catching Covid-19 from other pupils.
These include placing students in ‘bubbles’, such as their class or year groups. They will be allowed to have lessons, breaks and lunches together but not to mingle with other students, which could mean no assemblies or collective worship. Lunch and breaktimes are likely to be staggered to keep bubbles separate, while start and finishing times could also vary.
Additionally, desks are likely to be forward facing; staff and students will need to wash their hands regularly; instruments will have to be played outdoors; subjects might be dropped to focus on core topics; children will be encouraged to walk or cycle to school; and schools with two or more confirmed cases within 14 days of each other could be forced to close again.
When it comes to sport, the government said this “should be prioritised”, although contact sport needs to be avoided as this could help spread germs.
Schools could end up using their outdoor space more and more next term, with many education establishments already making the most of their sports fields for make-shift classrooms.
The Daily Mail reported how Llanishen Fach Primary School in Cardiff has set up tents on its playing fields to help Year 6 pupils maintain a safe distance from each other as it is short of space in the building.
This could become the norm with schools trying to limit contact between pupils as much as possible over the next term.
As the weather turns wetter over the autumn, it could be prudent to lay down artificial grass for schools, so they can continue to use canopies and tents for lessons or as cloakrooms without having to deal with muddy conditions.