Hours after schools reopened, parents shared photos of crowded sidewalks as families struggled to get away while dropping off students.
One-way systems and staggered drop-off and pick-up times have become the norm, but some schools’ setup means that is just not possible and they struggle to make things work.
Mum Lorenza Casini says her child’s school, Alma Park Primary in Levenshulme, is doing what it can to help, but says the current setup does not feel safe.
Sharing a photo of a crowded sidewalk outside the school, she said, “This is the space outside our school this morning. This situation is neither safe nor sustainable for social distancing and for road safety. “
Speaking to MEN, she said: “Entry times are staggered by year. They are only five minutes apart, so it is difficult for everyone to arrive exactly on time. There is simply not enough space on the roadway for people to arrive safe and sound and watch their children leave. ”
Lorenza said she and other parents had hoped that a School Streets program – part of the planned Levy Bee network – would have been put in place now, allowing them to temporarily close the road to rush hour traffic and to give families more space for the distance. But she says there have been continuous delays.
She added, “In the morning we have to go to the main gates during the time allotted for our children’s classes and stay by the gate, do not continue. In addition, there is only one adult per child / child allowed.
“Our school has more than 400 students. Even with staggered entry times we anticipate the arrival of large numbers of children and parents, the school is doing its best, but there is simply not enough safe space on the premises. sidewalks we have. “
A parent at New Moston Elementary School shared similar concerns about the crowds outside.
Sharing a photo of parents and children huddled together outside the doors on Wednesday morning, she described it as “free for all” and asked if “the lockdown was over”.
The mom, who did not want to be identified, told the MEN: “I was sick of it. It was just a free-for-all. It was chaos. The parents were standing right at the doors. It’s not the school’s fault. , it’s the government – they told them what to do, it’s hard work for the school.
“There were cars honking at people standing in the road. I know years 1 and 3 were at that door, there are 90 kids a year.
“You couldn’t tell who the staff were and who the parents were. How can someone socially distance themselves while this is happening? I’ve never seen anything like it. ”
In the Ministry of Education guidelines, schools were advised to consider staggered start and end times and to “think about how to communicate this to parents and remind them of the process that has been agreed to for. deposit and collection ”.
He also specifies that “the gathering at the gates of the school and the entry on the site without appointment are not authorized”.
The risk of transmission created by the run school is a risk that was raised by government doctors as they discussed the potential impact of returning to school full time.
Discussing the benefits of bringing children back to class, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said it was unlikely “to significantly increase the risk to families directly from children catching it in school and passing it on” .
But he added: “There are now other ways for schools to connect households. Parents meeting at the school gate, for example, and the fact that people who have school-aged children, because their children are in school, can then go to work and they will meet others people.
“The fact that schools are open will likely lead to an increase in transmission, but this is largely indirect.”
The new principal of Moston Primary School, Jacq Maynard, described the process of returning children to school as “extremely difficult for schools, parents and of course our students”.
She said: “The safety and well-being of our students is and always will be our top priority, but we must recognize that we are working under extremely difficult circumstances.
“As a school we will always evaluate and react to the way we do things and adapt our plans as necessary. “
In Stockport, mom Jill Glenister has been particularly worried about her five-year-old son Jasper returning to school and believes schools have an “unenviable job” operating at full capacity in today’s climate.
Classified as “clinically vulnerable” due to heart disease, Jill protected as much as she could and had mixed feelings about Jasper initially.
But she says her school, Cale Green Primary, has done its best to “make sure everyone is as safe as possible.”
She said: “Our school really does everything in its power to keep everyone safe and our principal is great at problem-solving and finding solutions as soon as a problem arises.
“They were given a very difficult job with very little advice and help from the government. I think the school is doing everything it can and it’s really up to parents to be in control when it comes to queuing outside of school.
“Schools can really only advise and ask adults to keep a safe distance, limit a parent / guardian, etc.” This is an impossible situation and I know our school is at least doing its best with what it has – in terms of using different entrances and staggered drop-off / pick-up slots. ”
Jill, whose son is now starting grade 5, added: “It’s trial and error for all schools right now and they’re just trying to find what works and change what works. does not work.
“I think it’s an unenviable task for schools to operate at full capacity for the first time while introducing these new requirements and safety measures. Of course there will be some starting issues, but I know our school is at least doing its best to make sure everyone is as safe as possible. ”
Manchester City Council has said that drop-offs and pick-ups are part of each school’s risk assessment to get students back to school and will be different for everyone as each site is unique and the number of pupils varies. But the authority says it will offer support when needed.
Councilor Garry Bridges, Executive Member of the Council for Children and Schools, said: “The council is committed to ensuring the safe return of students to school, and we will be on hand to provide all support. necessary throughout this transition period.
How did you find the return to school? Did the drop-off and pick-up feel safe? Let us know in the comments or share your opinions on our Manchester Family Facebook page.