Students across the UK will begin the process of returning to school as part of Boris Johnsons phased return to normal plans.
The majority of students have spent months learning remotely and those returning to secondary schools will find additional safety measures including face coverings in classrooms and rapid coronavirus tests. It will be unlike any first day at school any of us have experienced.
Secondary school and college students will be asked to wear face coverings in classrooms where social distancing cannot be maintained as a new safety measure on their return. That will really help the poor things to concentrate.
The measure is not mandatory though, so how many older students will try and enforce their right to refuse to wear? That could be an interesting conversation with the Head teacher. Primary school pupils are not required to wear face coverings when they return to face-to-face lessons too. The measure will be reviewed at Easter.
a “gradual return” would have been more sensible
Returning pupils will also be asked to take two quick-result COVID tests per week in order to identify asymptomatic carriers. Nearly 57 million lateral flow test kits, which can produce results in less than 30 minutes, have already been delivered to schools and colleges across the country.
After three initial tests on site, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home, although it will be interesting to see if the children do these as regularly as their weekly homework?!
However, there is still continuing concern that the speed of the tests comes at some cost in accuracy – with some believing the results are compromised if the test is not conducted correctly. How many children will be testing their marmite on toast for signs of COVID, instead of themselves?
There have been concerns raised about the effect on COVID-19 infections of bringing all pupils back on the same day. Trade Union Unison have got in early with their usual ‘rear-covering’ approach, by calling the “big bang” approach “reckless”.