Teacher Q&A on school safety
September 10, 2020
We asked teachers to answer some questions on the important steps schools are putting in place to ensure the safety of children.
We’ve headed back to term time and are again waving our children off for a full day of learning. It’s important to feel secure with the ‘new-normal’ approach to integrating back into school life safely.
We thought it would be a great idea to ask teachers themselves to answer questions on school safety. The lockdown period of isolation from Covid-19 was a challenging time for most of us. Many families have expressed that they’re not feeling completely secure with the safety of their children returning to their schools. Especially after getting used to having them home for such a long time. Others are excited for the opportunity to return to normal, albeit a ‘new-normal’ way of learning.
To gain some reassurance, we’ve asked both primary and secondary teachers some questions on their thoughts about new school processes. Here they are discussing what measures schools are taking to ensure that their environment is COVID secure.
Nicole Mohan from Chalk Ridge Primary School in Basingstoke and Teigan Cocker from Penair Secondary School in Cornwall, give us the ins and outs on returning to learning post a pandemic:
What is your school doing to prepare for the return of the children?
Before the summer holidays, virtual transition meetings with the children were arranged via Zoom with their new class teacher. Classrooms have been organised for the safety of the children e.g. forward-facing tables with individual pencil pots. Parents have been informed and kept up to date via emails in regard to the protocol and any changes that have been made for the return in September. – Nicole, Year 4 Teacher, Chalk Ridge Primary School.
Penair has implemented an entry and exit route around the school to make sure the corridors aren’t overcrowded with students. Students will in the main move outside the building with staff using the internal corridors. Penair has also increased sanitation across the school. There’s cleaning equipment in all the classes and on the desks to encourage students to wash their hands. Finally, students are required to wear face coverings during lesson change overs. – Teigan, Deputy Head of English, Penair Secondary School.
How is your school supporting children with their gaps in learning from the lockdown period?
Our school is following the ‘Catch up Scheme’ which Hampshire (HIAS) have provided schools within maths and English. Objectives that have been missed during the lockdown will be taught this term. As the children come back, it is important that they are given time to settle back into school life before learning takes place. PSHE and wellbeing lessons will be provided to ensure they are ready to learn.
Every morning the children will have a focus on reading, writing and maths. The afternoon will be focusing on topic work and foundation subjects. Interventions focusing on the gaps will be planned in for specific children and Learning Support Assistants will support children with these – Nicole, Year 4 Teacher, Chalk Ridge Primary School.
In the first couple of weeks back, baseline assessments will take place so teachers can quickly pick up on the weak areas of the students. This way teachers can then tackle it in their subsequent planning. For exam groups, a revision timetable will be put in place earlier so our Year 11s can attend additional classes to alleviate worries about their upcoming exams. Many teachers have been working over the summer on programmes of study/schemes of work to already adapt the teaching in line with what they have missed during lockdown. We use Microsoft Teams during lockdown, and we will continue to do this, with many subjects delivering online broadcasts after the school day. – Teigan, Deputy Head of English, Penair Secondary School.
How will your new regulations such as social distancing rules affect the school day?
Each year group will have a staggered start time, break time, lunch time and home time to ensure social distancing and reduction of crowding takes place. Hand washing stations across the school have been delivered over the summer holidays to be in use as of September. This will ensure hand washing takes place consistently and effectively – minimising waiting time with the other classes. Children will eat their lunches in their classroom. Then, with a set dinner staff, will go out and play outside within their area. – Nicole, Year 4 Teacher, Chalk Ridge Primary School.
Due to the year groups being in separate bubbles, break times and lunch times have been staggered throughout the day so students can be safe in their bubbles. Students will also enter the school and leave school at different times. This is to decrease the chance of students mixing from other year groups. For travelling home, there is even a specific seating plan for students who get buses to school. Different year groups all have a different specific outside space to ensure there is no contact between year groups. The students will still get the necessary contact time with their teachers as the Senior Leadership Team have made sure that these different timings don’t impact that time in class. – Teigan, Deputy Head of English, Penair Secondary School.
What would you advise parents to do if they are still concerned?
If parents are still concerned, I would advise them to contact the school to discuss further with their child’s class teacher or headteacher. Hopefully they will be able to provide the answers and reassurance you’re looking for. – Nicole, Year 4 Teacher, Chalk Ridge Primary School.
I would suggest that parents make sure they have read all letters/communication that their child’s school has sent them, so they are aware of how the school is going to keep their child safe. If they are still worried, making sure their child is prepared with the necessary PPE equipment. Lastly, the pastoral team in secondary schools (tutors etc) are there to talk through any concerns so don’t be afraid to contact the school directly if anyone needs peace of mind. – Teigan, Deputy Head of English, Penair Secondary School.
Explore parent Raj, takes her daughter to the Ruislip Explore Learning centre still on a weekly basis. Here she talks to us about her child’s return to learning:
My daughter’s first week back to school has gone surprisingly well given that there was anxiety and worry in the lead up to going back to school. I think the ‘soft’ return back to the environment has really helped the children to adjust back into a routine. She’s loved seeing all of her friends again after so long. The school has worked hard to keep parents informed of drop off and pick up times. These have changed a few times to avoid crowding and to allow for social distancing. Hand washing and sanitising is part of the school day now. It seems to have been embraced as part and parcel of everyday life. Not being able to share equipment has been hard for children, especially the younger ones who do not fully understand why they cannot borrow colour pencils or other equipment.
You can check out more advice on ‘surviving school’ with Head Above the Waves.
Education in a post Covid-19 world is going to look different, but that’s okay.
With new safe strategies and perseverance to endeavour to keep children’s wellbeing a priority and catch them up with learning topics that were lost to lockdown; we can feel safe that our children are safe as they return to learning.
Hear our tutor’s top tips on getting back into learning.
Find out more about how Explore Learning can support your child’s transition back to school.
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