Schools re-opening

I have read many comments suggesting schools should return as Covid does not affect children similarly to adults. This does not make any mention of teachers, headteachers, teaching assistants, office staff, dinner hall staff etc who are all adults & are all in close proximity to children daily. There are many adults in every school & before schools return safety procedures need to be implemented to ensure the safety of both the children and adults.

As a teacher I would imagine it to be virtually impossible to social distance in a school. Being in a classroom with children all day, even a smaller amount of children, adults will be susceptible. It is not uncommon for children to share materials, put things in their mouth, pick their nose, sneeze without shielding etc (in fact, all of these events happen on a daily basis). It would be impossible for any adult in a school to avoid these germs.
If a child is upset or distressed it is my job so support children through difficult times. Doing this from 2 meters away would be ineffective.
When a child is injured it is the job of the dedicated first aider to support them, possibly cleaning & bandaging cuts and grazes. Another situation which happens daily & would be impossible to distance in.
Also I'd be interested to learn what the supervising adult should do should a child have a toileting accident. Again, another situation where it would be very difficult to distance.

There seems to be a lot of opinions from people who, possibly, do not understand the day to day interactions which take place in a school. If a child required help & support in their learning I may need to talk them through their work, model an example for them, observe what they are writing/how they work things out, sit with them for support, help them to keep on task etc. Teaching & social distancing in near impossible alone, regardless of all the other non-teaching duties we face EVERY DAY.

In my opinion schools should only be returning with a very limited number of children thus ensuring that social distancing can take place effectively where possible, especially as some classrooms are very small.

PPE needs to be provided to keep the adults safe on a school as there are many, many daily occurancrs that cannot be dealt with at a distance.

Why the contribution is important

I think my opinion is important as it is the opinion of someone who works in a school on a daily basis and understands what interactions take place on a daily basis.

by HollyFrancesca on May 11, 2020 at 01:52PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 2.7
Based on: 8 votes


  • Posted by AlJones May 11, 2020 at 13:59

    There are many schools with few pupils and hardly any staff at all, in buildings that can cope with many more people. It should be on a case by case basis
  • Posted by RuthBradley May 11, 2020 at 14:02

    Agreed 100%
    I've commented on this elsewhere but my take on integrated infection control system design for schools on lines of traffic light system for areas + activities + staff teams as in healthcare settings:
    (detail of design to be case by case but essential principles need to be ironed out fast)

    Need to intelligently design the interior of school buildings to minimise pressure on the staff to further control kids behaviour.

    Some basics need to be clarified.
    who is being protected?

    Clearly the most vulnerable members of the school system are the staff.

    I am of the opinion that it is not of benefit to the kids to try and too strictly physically distance them from each other. Kids especially young kids do not have the self regulation needed to maintain distancing for long and it would be harmful emotionally and socially. Any infection control system that treats staff and kids on the same footing and trys to slow spread by the kids not being near enough to infect each other is doomed to fail.
    Just one toilet flushed with the seat up sprays the cubicle in potentially infected droplets.
    Just one cough or sneeze in an indoor airspace carries enough droplets to infect a group within 10m.

    I propose an integrated holistic infection control system:

    1) Minimise contamination coming in from outside - have a foot bath outdoors with a suitable agent that is supervised by adult for decontaminating shoes arriving onsite. children change shoes and leave jackets in a Hot Zone entrance way. No bags/books/items carried between home and school. Encourage kids to wear clean set of clothes each day...provide simple tracksuit and hoodie combos if necessary. Train staff in the kind of decontamination systems that healthcare workers operate when coming in and off shift back to their houses.

    2) Segregate the school building into red, amber and green areas similar to healthcare settings. All areas that pupils access designated red; areas that pupil facing staff access designated amber; areas that non-contact staff access designated green. red zone and green zone staff should not be in contact or share items. put up perspex screens if necessary. As much as possible manage building ventilation so that air does not move from red zones to green zones. In red zones remove as much loose items and furniture as possible to facilitate regular deep cleaning. May be necessary to let go of timetabling and original class groupings.

    3) Separate staff into Green Teams and Red Teams. Any staff that are higher risk should be in non-contact areas only. Younger, fitter staff with no underlying health conditions should operate in pupil contact 'Red Teams'. This does not mean red team does all the teaching. An appropriate subject teacher may teach a class remotely (from a computer in Green Zone) while a red team staff member supervises the class and aids pupils to ask for help. Subject lessons may or may not all be similar classes, mixed age and ability groups may suit this better with online learning facilitated by support rom a red team and green team staff member rather than one focal staff point of teaching....classroom equivalent of self checkouts where you call the teacher when you are needing help.
    The benefit of this is that contact between staff is regulated and at risk staff would be less vulnerable to poor outcomes to covid 19

    4) teach all staff and pupils alike a traffic light based system of infection control. Make sure everyone knows routes of transmission. Map the points at which kids and staff will do hand hygiene. Put taped lanes on the floor for kids only separate to staff. Have it clear where kids need to do strict regulated physical distancing and wearing masks (moving from one activity site to another), and where they can relax a bit (outdoors maybe).
    Need to build in the reality that the kids can't be the priority for contagion is the staff that are the priority to make sure infection does not spread. Children of shielders may need to be taught under stricter conditions of infection control, possibly best a a dedicated campus or separate building onsite.
    Can design large scale bubble pods based on the principle of face visors. This is one option I've been considering to allow for staff - pupil contact time without the need for masks. I think this is especially important for young children.
    A bubble pod could be made with sheets of light plastic bend into semicircles and bolted together. I've made a model, can provide details if needed.

    Really important that arbitrary measures are not introduced that do not warrant the effort based on impact on contagio mitigation. Time for thoughtful integrated approach
  • Posted by Stargazer1960 May 11, 2020 at 14:06

    I agree that children need to return to some form of structured learning, interaction with friends and play. I do not believe that school is perhaps the safest way for this to be achieved in the short term. I cannot imagine a world in which anychild under 7 would not run to hug a friend. Extending the household bubble to a slightly bigger bubble would allow some interaction with school friends initially. Parents could share knowledge and expertise and take turns home schooling.
    I would like to see this as an opportunity to review how school works for various age groups. Perhaps 5th and 6th years could be run more as a virtual college based on video conferencing, zoom tutorials and with socially distanced lab work or practical sessions to supplement.
    For a family with children of different ages a full return to school would exponentially increase their contacts - as each child will be in a different class and potentially a different school.
  • Posted by Feriface May 11, 2020 at 14:48

    I agree 100% with this teacher and every other voice here saying no to schools re-opening anytime soon. Kids just cannot be expected to do this.
  • Posted by Cheryl May 11, 2020 at 15:22

    Children and staff in schools cannot social distance, it is impossible. Children do not sit at desks all day, they move around, share resources, etc.
    Children come up to staff and hug them, hold their hand, continually tap them. Hand hygiene is a nightmare, children touch their faces constantly, some suck their thumb.

    Have we got enough hand sanitiser, paper towels, soap, etc to ensure schools don’t run out and don’t take resources away from health/social care.

    Should siblings be kept in the same class to minimise spread?

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