August 27th, 2020
The next return to school will be like none other. Most children have been learning from home for months in the UK. Some went back in whole or in part at the end of last term. Some have not been in face to face learning since March.
A few parents have loved the opportunity to individualise their child’s learning and to spend some real quality time with their kids. Others have found it incredibly difficult to supervise home learning while working themselves or caring for younger children. This is not a moment to compare your parenting with others’ and feel bad if you are longing to send your kids back to school. Each family has different circumstances and how home learning has impacted you will have depended on multiple factors like your children’s ages, educational needs and abilities, their temperament, your work and childcare commitments, your own wellbeing and your support structures.
In September all school children, including those with special needs will be expected to return to school. Attendance will be mandatory. Schools have had to adjust quickly and put a range of measures in place with extra cleaning protocols and to try to keep children apart by keeping classes or whole year groups apart in separate ‘protective bubbles’ and by having staggered break times as well as reducing parent contact at drop offs. Many parents are concerned about how all this will work and there is confusion resulting from conflicting scientific advice.
I have no medical expertise and don’t purport to offer opinions on that but I know in each country with easing of restrictions we are constantly making assessments about balancing risks. In this case the risks we’re weighing up are the damage to education and social learnings from remaining out of school versus the risk of contracting or transmitting the virus. The current science (and this changes all the time with experience) seems to suggest that healthy children are less likely to contract or pass on the disease than adults and they experience less severe symptoms if they do fall ill. When they do get ill it seems more likely that they have contracted it from an adult rather than another child. In some countries they have taken the view (based on differing amounts of virus in the community) that social distancing measures for children are unwarranted.
Of course there are many different views circulating and a high degree of confusion and anxiety about children returning to school. One of the things we have all had to get used to in the era of Covid-19 is a much higher degree of uncertainty and for many this is very hard to cope with. There are reports of disturbed sleep, higher rates of intense dreaming and more dependence on alcohol.
You may be anxious about sending your child back to school for reasons of logistics (issues with transport or contact with other people en route) or health (either theirs or that of another member of your household). But when your child goes back to school there will be some things you can do to help them settle back in happily:
Of course point to the good things about going back to school, and smile! Let your child know you will miss them and look forward to hearing all about their day at home time.
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