Welcome readers. As it’s the weekend, I thought you and I could look back at our week – the good, the bad and the stinking ugly!
My recent thoughts and conversations have been dominated with education versus Covid-19. I work in a junior school and from the 1st June 2020, it officially reopened. As did my sons, who is in Year 6. Instantly, I was faced with a dilemma which I am sure many readers can relate to. I have to work; what do I do with my son?
Return to school questionnaire
My son’s school had sent me a questionnaire – are you sending your child back to school? A simple, yet loaded question. This topic alone has saturated my Facebook recently with opinions flying here, there and definitely everywhere. Did you have an opinion on the subject? I was on one extreme side of this debate – having personally witnessed the swift and devastating impact of a deadly virus, I immediately hit the ‘no, are you insane?’ button and sent the questionnaire flying right back.
Oooohhhh, I can feel many readers are itching to tell me I’m wrong. But so far I’ve kept well out of this debate. Each parent’s choice is their own and one they take with love. Anyway, back to the main topic, which has split into two parts. The second half is what parents thought of how schools prepared for this event. This is where I have surprisingly swung to the other side of the ring.
Over the past month, I have been going in and out of the school I work in. Intense preparation has taken place in anticipation of this event. Cleaning so deep we practically swim in bleach. A one way system for both children and adults. Ten children in a class along with lunch at your desk. Teaching methods that have altered and may never go back.
Altered teaching methods – for better or for worse?
Now, this is where I can here the home schooler’s hiss and boo. ‘See!’, they say. ‘How regimented, how boring! Where is the flexibility in the learning? How right we were’, they state, ‘in not putting our children into this system’. Well, to come right back at you, I have to say I am all for home schooling. As long as your child socialises and receives learning and stability, I believe it can be a great way of learning. But that’s another post in waiting! For now, I am focusing on the fact that children are now ten in a class instead of 30. That they are out of the class more, with forest school and PE. That attention has been paid to new games that can be played that do not involve contact but means they have fun with their friends in a familiar setting.
So if we put these two issues together, I am divided. No, I am not sending my ten year old back to school. However, having being part of ‘behind the scenes’, I am reassured that schools are doing all they can, academically and logistically while keeping many factors firmly in mind. These include the health of children and staff, the promotion of their academic attainment as far as currently possible, friendship groups and their physical fitness.
We have now been back in school for a week. My son spends part of the day with me, part with his father. Another compromise and a slightly anxious time for me. However, these last few months have shown my son what working can be like and I have had many hugs and comments such as ‘You work so hard mummy’ and ‘Do you do everything at your school?’ Having reassured him that, no I do not do everything at my school but yes I do work hard, my son now knows a little more about adult work. That it can be stressful but also rewarding. Consequently, he now brings me treats and will actually be quiet when I am on a Zoom call.
Second wave of the virus – is it coming?
We are hearing reports in the news about schools around the world that are now closing after re-opening as there have been Covid-19 outbreaks in classrooms. We know we can’t stay in isolation forever, that the economy had to be kick started and that life has to be resumed, albeit it in a different way. However, it does slightly feel that schools are a guinea pig at the moment. ‘I know’, said the main government scientific adviser. ‘Let’s do a test and see what happens. Lets reopen schools!’ Now, of course I don’t know if these exact words were used but I do know, however that I do not like myself or my son being part of an experiment.
The fight – who will be the champion?
In conclusion to the above, my son will be at home until at least September. I will be working part-time in my school and part-time from home, whilst taking all health precautions. The next six weeks will tick by with the world watching this fight. Education in one corner, coronavirus in the other. Can social distancing, regular deep cleaning, PPE equipment and new routines beat this virus? Who will emerge the champion?
What does your world look like now? If you have children that are allowed back to school, have you sent them? Was this decision a dilemma or an easy one? I have written this post from home at the weekend. I now need to wash all the clothes I wore to school, make sure I remember to take my own coffee mug, my own cutlery and my own cloth to wash them with. Is this a step too far? I don’t know but I do know that I will do all I can to protect my family, myself and the children I now see on a daily basis. This is a brave new world.
Do you think schools should have gone back in June? Or do you think the government have got it wrong? If you have children that are eligible to return, what was your decision? Let me know your thoughts!