How are secondary schools preparing to welcome back Year 10s and 12s after lockdown?
PUBLISHED: 14:23 11 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:23 11 June 2020
This is what secondary schools in Suffolk will look like when more students return to the classroom for the first time in nearly three months after the Covid-19 crisis.
Secondary schools will welcome back some Year 10 and Year 12 students next week, after being closed to everyone except the children of some key workers since March.
Andy Green, principal of Copleston High School in Ipswich, said the return of limited numbers of students on Monday, June 15 would be an “invaluable” opportunity for young people and their learning.
But as these pictures from Copleston show, school life will be radically different from what they were used to before the lockdown.
The changes are designed to ensure that students can return safely, giving them some crucial face-to-face time with teachers which will complement their online learning - whilst minimising the risk of spreading the virus.
The measures include:
■ Only 25 A-level students and up to 75 Year 10s allowed in school at any one time
■ Students will stay in ‘bubbles’ of around 10 people throughout the day
■ Young people will stay in one classroom for the whole day, including at lunchtimes - teachers will move around classrooms to teach students
■ No breaks - instead, students will do shorter, staggered days to ensure they don’t mix with other ‘bubbles’
■ One-way system around the school to guide students to their classrooms - students will not be able to wander around the corridors
■ Floor markings to ensure two-metre social distancing
■ Hand sanitisers fixed to walls around Copleston - students will have to wash their hands regularly
■ Increased cleaning throughout the day, including deep cleans of classrooms in use
The limit on numbers of students means the majority of learning will still be online, via screencast presentations or Microsoft Teams sessions.
Social distancing requirements mean young people will only go to school one day a week, with Year 10s focusing on the core subjects of English, science and maths when they are in school.
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Mr Green said he understood many young people and parents would still be nervous about the current situation.
However, he believes young people will understand and adhere to the new rules, particularly as they have got used to social distancing measures in supermarkets and other shops over the past few weeks.
“The parents are just really pleased that we’re taking social distancing measures as seriously as we are,” he said.
“Even very young children have been living this experience and, through their parents, they’ve come to expect to social distance.
“They are much more attuned to it then they would have been three months ago.”
Mr Green has previously warned there could be serious implications for children’s long-term education unless high-quality online learning programmes are in put in place during the coronavirus crisis.
However, he believes allowing students to have some time in school - however limited - will develop a crucial “blended learning approach”.
“I don’t think social distancing in schools is going to disappear completely for some time yet,” he said.
“I think this gives students some confidence to see other students and teachers face-to-face and reduce any anxiety they might be feeling.
“It’s not there to replace online learning, but it can act as a bit of a springboard when they are back at home.
“It can support their online learning.”
In a letter to parents, Mr Green added: “As parents/carers, you have the choice whether to send your child to school from June 15.
“I believe that the opportunity to see and hear from a specialist teacher to support your child’s home learning will be invaluable. It is an extremely important time in their educational career.
“It is also worth noting the potential positive impact on mental health of coming to school, seeing others and asking questions.
“I assure you that we will do our utmost to provide a safe environment for your child, whilst providing them with an opportunity to support their home learning as effectively as possible.”
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