After six weeks of summer holidays, the new academic year usually provides relief for most parents. However, 2020’s pandemic has left many unsure of whether it is safe for their children to return to school, and how potential further disruptions to their education will be handled. We spoke to three Tandridge parents to find out how they’re feeling.
Kate Ross* has two children at secondary school. Losing her father to Covid-19 has given her heightened awareness of the risks, particularly in regard to face coverings.
Currently it is left to the discretion of secondary schools as to whether pupils wear a face mask in communal areas. Kate says her children’s school regards it as the individual’s choice:
“I encourage my children to use their masks but they feel self-conscious if their friends aren’t wearing them. It’s not the school’s fault there’s no law in place but I’m having sleepless nights about my children’s safety.”
In contrast, the school Jennie Wilson’s children attend ask that all pupils wear masks:
Jennie says: “Each year group wears different coloured masks, provided by the school, in communal areas. They ensure all the children sanitise their hands regularly, and are regularly reminded to social distance from each other.”
Jennie’s main concern is her son, who is in Year 11:
“I’ve spoken to his year head about curriculum changes affecting GCSEs, i.e. field trips that can’t be taken, leaving gaps in their knowledge. I am also worried another lockdown will interrupt things further.”
Joseph Vale’s son, Harry, has just started in Year 7, and he’s happy with his school’s communication so far:
“We received clear information before term started, explaining new zoning policies and cleaning methods they’re employing. I appreciate how tricky it is to get the children back safely, so I think they’re doing well.”
Nonetheless, Joseph is worried about how social distancing and lack of induction activities have made it harder for shyer children to make friends. With year groups being sent home if a positive coronavirus case is found, he also questions how new children will navigate online learning systems they have little experience with.
How has your ‘back to school’ experience been? Let us know at email@example.com.
*All names have been changed