Every year emotional parents and excited children anticipate the big adventure of a new school year. Tips about where to get the best value school shoes, smart first day photos, and proud as punch posts abound on social media newsfeeds.
But it all feels a bit different this time around, doesn’t it?
Because, in a way, this pandemic has forced teachers, parents and children alike ‘back to school’ in some shape or form.
🌱We are all starting an adventure of adjusting to a completely new routine, the ‘new normal’ everyone keeps talking about.
🌱We are all being presented with opportunities to adapt and adjust to a previously unknown situation.
🌱We are all mustering up the different kind of bravery involved in walking into/walking our kids into a school building post lockdown
🌱We are all going into this with a host of new questions that are as yet unanswered.
How will teachers manage to keep children at a safe distance from one another? How will they cope with that increased pressure?
How will parents manage new stresses of work, childcare and scheduling pick ups for multiple children?
How hard will it be for children to overcome decreased physical contact, staff wearing PPE at times, minimalist learning environments and restricted social interaction?
As we walk into this unprecedented adventure, we do so carrying the weight of potential disappointments.
Many schools are keeping classes within protective ‘bubbles’ for learning, creating, eating and playing together. This is an attempt to protect children from the rapid spread of infection. The idea means that if a student gets sick or tests positive for COVID-19, everyone that has had direct contact with them can be quarantined quickly and efficiently.
The size of these bubbles has recently doubled after an announcement that all children would be returning to school full time.
But asides from the worry that safety bubbles could be burst on public transport or interactions outside school, other uncomfortable potentialities are:
🌱The idea of whole classes and their families needing to self isolate due to unidentified coughs and fevers.
🌱Parents’ confusion about whether, when their kids go back to school, they will need to make changes to their existing social bubbles.
🌱Children’s disappointment at not being bubbled with best friends, parents struggling with work, childcare and pickups as a result of haphazard school hours and staggered collection times.
And yet, despite all these potential uncertainties and disappointments, every adventure requires bravery, and this is one we are all embarking upon together.
So surely this is a perfect moment to celebrate the brave steps being taken by each of us at this time. Steps towards normality. Baby steps towards life as we knew it before. Steps to overcome the challenges ahead.
💪Parents bravely releasing children they have held tightly these last six months
💪Mums and dads bravely cooperating to ensure the best possible work, life, school balance
💪Teachers bravely accepting responsibility for supervising children – all so they can thrive and continue to learn.
💪Officials bravely and diligently working through risk asssesments and balancing pros and cons
💪Children (with all the current anxieties added to normal new term nerves!) bravely heading back to a classroom situation which will be very different in some ways.
Yes, we might feel the weight of Unknown’s and disappointments, but let’s lighten the mood by celebrating the beauty of our collective bravery as we move forward into this new adventure together!
As an English headmaster wrote to his pupils just before lockdown struck,
‘These are very unusual times and one day, when this is all over, you will be telling your children about the time that our brilliant community overcame a huge challenge, how we stuck together to help and care for each other. You will also tell them how brave you have been.’
👏Thank you, brave teachers
👏Thank you, brave legislators
👏Thank you, brave key workers
👏Thank you, brave parents
👏Thank you, brave children!
… and let the adventure begin!