On Monday, 8 March, students will begin the journey back to school. Can you imagine the feelings that will be going through their minds? After the trials and confusion of the last 12 months, they are now trying to understand what normal means. Attendance is compulsory.
An alliance of teachers’ and head teachers’ union expressed their concern, saying that sending back ten million children and school staff at the same time was “reckless” and risked triggering a fresh wave of infections.
Tests carried out by you at home involve the PCR process which will need to be processed by a laboratory. You will need to provide swab samples from the throat and nostril. Testing will cause anxiety and fear for a number of students, and schools will need to do a lot of work to make this process accessible and reduce fear. How do you feel about carrying out tests at home?
Pupils face three tests in schools, thereafter, the expectation is that two tests per week will be carried out by parents and carers at home. Schools will use the rapid lateral flow test which requires selfswabbing of the throat and one nostril. The accuracy of the test depends on how this procedure is carried. Please note that this is voluntary, the government’s guidelines make this clear. However, this can be lost in the media campaigns that suggest you have no choice. As parents, you must decide what is acceptable for your children and make this clear to the school. The pressure to conform can mean that you agree to things that you are not happy about; once you accept the conditions, it is too late to complain in the future.
Face masks will now be worn in class as well as in the corridors. Again, this is voluntary, but you can imagine the stress that students will feel if they do not follow this requirement. Ultimately, you as parents will be held responsible for your children’s behavior.
Once students have been tested and the results are known, students can return to the classroom. The process of organizing this operation will be a logistical challenge for any school. Many will adopt a staggered return, dealing with year groups according to an agreed timetable. Patience will be needed by everyone.
There has been talked of fining parents who do return their children back to school. I have no doubt this will be challenged in the days ahead as some parents refuse to expose their children to these current conditions.
Extra funding has been made available to schools by the government (to the tune of £300m) as part of a catch-up fund, bringing the total to almost £1 bn. Talk of summer school, after
school lessons and an extended school day have been voiced in the media. What are your thoughts as parents?
Sports and after-school activities are encouraged and some of this money is to support initiatives that promote extracurricular participation. The school catch-up tsar, Sir Kevan Collins, will oversee the education recovery process.