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It seems like forever since they were last in a classroom, but the day is finally at hand. Here’s a quick list of what you need to think about ahead of the much-anticipated return.
What Will You Need For Return To School?
After weeks away from the classroom, it can take a some mental gymnastics to be sure you’ve remembered all the old routines and requirements. We’ve put together this handy checklist so you can keep on top of everything.
Check You’ve Got All The Times And Dates
If your kids have been attending school for years, you might have start and end times ingrained into your very soul. But consider this a little reminder to double-check any emails from the school. With health-and-safety measures still in place, many schools have staggered opening and closing times, to minimise the mixing of different year bubbles. In addition, secondary school pupils may also start on different dates, to give schools a chance to fulfill rapid-testing requirements. Breakfast and after-school clubs are permitted again, as are after-school outdoor sports activities, though not every school will be opening them straight away.
Does The School Uniform Still Fit?
Kids have a habit of growing. We all know this, but it still comes as a surprise when a pair of previously spacious trousers are now skin tight, or that prized jumper stops mid-way up the wrists. It’s been weeks or even months since most children last pulled on their uniforms. So be sure to do a test run to see if everything still fits. Don’t leave it until the start of the first school day.
To Face Mask Or Not To Face Mask?
This term sees a new requirement for schools in England. All pupils in secondary schools must now wear a face covering when in any part of school where social distancing is problematic -- and that can include the classroom. Make sure you’ve got a good stash of children’s masks for anyone aged over 11. (Note, primary age kids do not need a mask.) You might consider buying one of these specially designed masks, or try crafting your own. If your child is reluctant to wear a mask, we’ve got tips on how to convince them.
Can I Talk To Other Parents At The School Gates?
Mixing with other households, even outdoors, remains a risk factor. Schools will be messaging parents to discourage them from mixing on school premises or outside the gates. However, the rules on socialising in England will undergo a small change on 8 March, to allow two people from different households to meet outdoors without having to exercise. So you could, in theory, meet another parent in a park, before heading to school for the pick-up. However, the rule specifies ‘people’ and not ‘adults’, so you still can’t legally mix with another household once you have kids in tow. That freedom should come into play on 29 March.
A Little ‘You’ Time?
Finally, the return to school has another very important consequence. Freed from homeschooling and childcare responsibilities, many (though not all) parents and guardians will suddenly have a bit more time on their hands. What to do with the spare hours? For many of us, it’ll be a chance to refocus on work commitments or spend more time with the preschool sibling(s). But for those who do have a few hours spare, we’ve put together a lockdown bucket list aimed at parents. Decorate the bedrooms, volunteer in the community, or simply catch up with all those books you’ve been meaning to read.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.