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7 ways reopened schools have changed for children

PUBLISHED: 15:04 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 23:29 02 June 2020

Pupils in taught in small group in class at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Pupils in taught in small group in class at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Children are back in the classroom but school is proving both a strange but also novel new place for returning pupils.

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market has put in place floor markings in its corridors in light of social distancing guidelines. Picture: Matthew TryHillcrest Primary School in Downham Market has put in place floor markings in its corridors in light of social distancing guidelines. Picture: Matthew Try

Following government guidelines, all children in reception, years one and six could in theory go back to school from June 1.

In practice just under half of primary schools in Norfolk were ready to welcome back pupils, while others are still working on the practicalities, with more expected to reopen later this week, from June 8 or in a limited number of cases on June 15.

MORE: Less than half of Norfolk schools reopen to returning pupils

The first thing many parents will have noticed is that this is in many cases not a return to full-time school.

Reception pupil Sophia painting on spaced apart desk at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireReception pupil Sophia painting on spaced apart desk at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Some schools, especially those with limited space or who do not currently have enough staff, are limiting pupils to only attending on certain days or only morning or afternoon sessions.

But what else has changed?

Year six pupils at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew at spaced apart desks. Picture: Sarah ShirrasYear six pupils at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew at spaced apart desks. Picture: Sarah Shirras

Small groups - Children are not in their normal classes but organised into small groups - or ‘pods’ - where possible with the same teacher and teaching assistant. Numbers can be up to 15 but at some schools are as few as six. Different groups then don’t mix during the day or on subsequent days.

Children use the same classroom throughout the day, with a thorough cleaning of the rooms at the end of the day.

Reception pupil Danny in class at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireReception pupil Danny in class at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Spartan classrooms - Schools have been told to remove unnecessary items where there is space to store them elsewhere. Soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean have also been removed. Some, like St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew, have sought to make them less spartan with colourful new rugs or artwork.

Own desks - Pupils are using the same desk each day if they attend on consecutive days. Desks and workstations are spaced apart.

Reception pupil Finley in class at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireReception pupil Finley in class at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Youngsters have been given trays to keep their pens and stationary in to prevent the sharing of equipment where possible. All shared materials and surfaces are being cleaned and disinfected more frequently.

One-way corridors - Corridors in some schools are now one-way, or have a divider placed down the middle of the corridor to keep groups apart. Where the size of the school makes this impossible, movements are being staggered to limit the number of pupils using them at any time.

Worstead Primary School headteacher Nick Read showing how socially distanced class rooms look. Oscar and Izzy in class. Picture: Brittany WoodmanWorstead Primary School headteacher Nick Read showing how socially distanced class rooms look. Oscar and Izzy in class. Picture: Brittany Woodman

Staggered playtimes - Break times are now staggering to keep groups kept apart as much as possible. When youngsters eat lunch, tables are being cleaned between each group. Groups are being kept apart outdoors at playtime too - especially not playing sports or games together and in most cases not using play equipment.

Pupils at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew space out in a small group during an outdoor art class. Picture: Sarah ShirrasPupils at St Williams Primary in Thorpe St Andrew space out in a small group during an outdoor art class. Picture: Sarah Shirras

Keeping clean - Before school closed on March 20 pupils were being encouraged to wash their hands more often. On their return cleanliness is the new golden rule, with youngsters cleaning their hands every time they move locations, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing.

Many schools are encouraging young children to learn and practise these habits through games and songs. There are sanitiser and handwashing stations in corridors or classrooms.

Parents observe social distancing to drop off children off at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireParents observe social distancing to drop off children off at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

School gate social distancing - The familiar jostle of parents clustered around the school gate to drop off and pick up their children is a thing of the past. Many schools are asking that just one parent or carer attend and to observe strict social distancing. Some schools have installed markers on footpaths, walls and fences. Some have new designated entrances and exits to avoid crowding.

MORE: ‘I’m confident they’re doing everything right’ - parents drop children off at school


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