Back in May I wrote about how I found homeschooling my daughter and how I was looking forward to her being able to return to school. Well this week that day came, although the local authority decided to do a soft start for the first week and all children will return full time next week.
What Is a Soft Start?
So first I'll explain what a soft start is. Back in June the Scottish government stated that children would do blended learning with some days in school and some at school. This was so that there would be less children in the class at any one time and so social distancing could be done between children.
So at my daughters school this was being done by splitting classes in to two different groups, with group A being in all day Monday and Tuesday. Group B were going to be in all day Thursday and Friday. And the days that they aren't in school they would continue to learn at home.
Unfortunately for the schools they had no sooner worked incredibly hard to work this out and its impact on the children than the government changed the goal posts and declared that all children would return full time by Monday 17th August. As it was apparently deemed that children were not as susceptible to Covid-19, personally I'm cynical and I think this change was down to them wanting parents and careers back working full time and bringing taxes in, but as I say that is just my opinion and I could just be getting very cynical the older I get.
Due to this change my local authority decided that the first week they would have group A in only on Wednesday, only P1 in on Thursday and only group B in on Friday (Monday and Tuesday were in service days as already planned before lock down). This is so the children can be given an introduction to what the new school will look like.
There's a Glitch
Before my daughter had even left for school on Wednesday morning a glitch was hit, the school had been flooded during the night. I was actually woke about 3 am on Wednesday morning to torrential rain, thunder and lighting.
A lot of roads had been affected by flooding all over Scotland but mainly on the east coast (which is the side of Scotland I live), as this article from BBC news website can testify. And this image from STV News shows the extent of some of the flooding.
But thanks to the staffs hard work the school start was only delayed by an hour and by 10 am the kids were able to go in.
A New Normal?
Despite the kids going back full time next week it is not back to the old ways.
The kids can't take a school bag or pencil case in, if a child takes their own lunch in it must be in a disposable bag so in other words no pack lunch boxes or bags. In fact the only thing they can take in is a water bottle.
This isn't where the changes and restrictions end. There won't be assemblies, music lessons or P.E (physical education) until further notice and lunches will be had in the classroom instead of the dinning hall. The only options for school lunches are going to be sandwiches with fruit/veg bags, yogurt and a drink. And this isn't just at my daughters school, it is at all schools in this authorities area.
Now that last point about lunches won't put my daughter up nor down as she is quite happy with a sandwich for lunch but there are children whose only chance for a hot meal is at the school. For those children I feel very sorry for but at least they will still be getting something in the middle of the day.
In fact none of these new normal's have put my daughter up nor down, she has accepted them in her stride. As well as the fact the teachers will be encouraging the children to wash their hands more frequently. Though I've had to explain clearly to my daughter that she can't be nearer than 2 meters from the staff and that her teacher might be wearing a mask or some sort of protective gear. She finds this odd but is accepting of them.
However, there was one change which my daughter had got upset about and that was I wasn't going to be able to come into the playground to drop her off. This was a ruling from the local authority and not the school, that all schools had to abide by. It was one that all parents at the school were confused by the practicalities of. The main confusion was at pick up as there are three exits from the school playground with each exit onto three different roads. And we couldn't see how the staff would be able to ensure the children were safely with the correct adult, or how adults could keep the required 2 meters away from each other when two of the exits go onto narrow pavements.
Thankfully there has been a reverse on this ruling and one parent/carer per child in P1, P2 and P3 are now allowed in the playground. There is going to be a one way system in place so we will enter through one of two entrances and all exit through the same one. I think this is a much better idea and on Wednesday my daughter was quite happy to go into her line cause I was there. I suspect had I not been able to go in with her she would've been reluctant to go, and I doubt she would've been the only child like that.
I'm happy to say that my daughter got on fine with her first day in P3 and I don't doubt she'll be fine next week when the school is back full time.
How do I feel about the schools going back full time in the light of everything?
Well on the one hand I'm glad the kids are going back to be taught by someone who is actually trained to teach them. And there is no denying that the kids will feel better to be back with their friends and the routine of school.
But on the other hand I am worried that the government is rushing them back and that with there still being so much uncertainty about the Coronavirus and if there's going to be another wave or not. And it still isn't completely clear how this virus can be spread among children, although the politicians keep saying the evidence suggests they aren't as badly affected as adults.
I can only hope this is the right thing to do for the kids in the long run, as I am worried how it will affect my daughter and other children if the schools have to close down again. But that is something that as parents and schools will have to deal with if it happens.