Coronavirus: What can we learn from schools that have reopened?

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Millions of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to return to school in a matter of weeks, after months of education disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Parents and teachers whose schools have already reopened tell us what they learned from their children’s return to class.

Buzz in class “a delight”


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Media legendMike Corbett, Scottish teacher and NASUWT member: “It’s not the same, but the kids better come back”

Mike Corbett was happy to return to face-to-face teaching at his secondary school in East Dunbartonshire earlier this month.

“That buzz of classroom discussion you get – it’s totally impossible online – is a pleasure to have and one of the best things we love about teaching,” the English teacher told Radio 5 Live.

Mike, who is a member of the national executive of the NASUWT Scotland teachers’ union, thinks the students are also “very happy to be back” – but there are many pandemic protocols they can get used to, such as using regularly a hand sanitizer, without doing group work. , and wiping down their desk before leaving the room.

Mike also has things to adjust to. He is frustrated with a line marking two meters to keep him at a safe distance from the students, as it means he cannot approach people who are having trouble understanding his lesson.

But it’s “as good” as the line is there, Mike says. On Thursday, her entire class had to be evacuated and cleaned up following a student showing symptoms of coronavirus.

“The only reason I was able to sleep soundly Thursday night was because I didn’t cross that two-meter line,” he said.

Despite comments from UK Chief Medical Advisor Professor Chris Whitty, who tries to reassure parents, students and teachers that schools are safe, Mike says “staff are still very concerned about the situation”.

He said the recent increase in cases in Scotland means that the virus will “inevitably” enter the classroom – “and then the fear is that there will be a spread in schools”.

‘No extra spacing’ but masks, masks, masks

Alex Nunn lives in Berlin, where her 15-year-old stepchildren have been back to school for two weeks.

“There was no extra spacing or anything like that at school,” she says, but that’s because teachers and students have to wear masks all over the school, except when they are seated at their desks.

“As soon as they get up to move around the school, go to the bathroom, go to the playground, they wear masks all the time,” she says.

Alex, 50, tells Radio 5 Live that she struggles to understand why some people in the UK see wearing a mask as “such a big deal”, and hopes some anxious parents will learn from her sister, whom she visited in London.

“My five-year-old nephew wears one here when he takes public transport. Somehow my sister has managed to make it a bit of an adventure and fun, and he understands why he’s wearing it – and I just don’t understand why he’s seen as such a big deal to wear. a mask here, ”she said.

The World Health Organization has said that children aged 12 and older should wear masks according to national recommendations, citing evidence suggesting that adolescents can infect others in the same way as adults.

Rule change to apply masks “probably”

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Media legend“Homework is now fully digital”: Colette Reilly, mother of three from Paisley, describes what has changed

Masks are also a big topic of discussion in Scotland.

Colette Reilly says that since her daughters, aged 12 and 14, returned to class, a teacher has told them that the current lack of rules on wearing masks is “likely to change” at Paisley’s school.

This comes after criticism from some students saying “it is not possible to socially distance oneself” inside schools. One high school in Edinburgh has previously chosen to tell students and staff to cover their faces as they move between classes.

“I have no problem with [my children wearing masks]», Tells Colette to Radio 5 Live.

” Even if it’s [for a] year, in terms of lifespan, that’s a very short-term problem. Ultimately, it is not about individual families, but the collective. We all need to take care of each other. ”

She says the “significant changes” her daughters have noticed about returning to school life include the use of hand sanitizer at school stations, social distancing from other students in classrooms. and being given digital homework.

‘I don’t feel safe’

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Liz Silverman

Liz Silverman from Northwood, London, wants face masks to be made compulsory at the gates of her grandchildren’s primary school.

“At collection time, all moms, dads and grandparents should wait outside the classroom because the teacher will not release a child until they see the parent or grandparent. Social distancing is not possible… I don’t feel safe, ”she said.

Liz says her daughter and daughter-in-law couldn’t return to work if she didn’t pick up the kids from school twice a week – so they had “no choice” but to ask her to. ugly.

But she fears that, as her husband protects him, “if I bring her something home, it could be devastating.”

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