Schools prepare for return of students with new COVID-safe measures

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Schools across the Royal Borough and Slough have set up measures to increase safety for children and staff as pupils prepare to return next week.

On Tuesday, the Government changed its advice on face coverings in corridors and communal areas of secondary schools – this will now be up to individual headteachers in most parts of the country.

Another of the more noticeable changes around school grounds will be the social distancing of different year groups, as per the Government-advised system of peer group ‘bubbles’.

This change will also affect before and after school clubs, including homework clubs and breakfast clubs.

Cafeterias will change how they are spaced, stretching out into assembly halls, staggering arrivals, zoning children by age, and changing queuing systems at the serving counters.

At The Windsor Boys’ School, a ‘no touching’ rule has been instigated and it will hold no assemblies or large gatherings, while other schools have chosen virtual assemblies.

Windsor Boys’ pupils will only be able to circulate in the school to go to and from lessons and all queuing will be outside on marked dots.

“It has been the most unbelievably difficult of times, but we have got to this point relatively successfully because of the unity and understanding between teachers, students and parents,” said headteacher Gavin Henderson. “I am really looking forward to September and a tentative return to normality.”

Other schools have introduced rules that guard against the sorts of everyday activities taken for granted.

For example, Herschel Grammar School in Slough has stated that the sharing of school equipment will not be allowed.

Parents will also be asked to change their behaviour to maintain social distancing in the school grounds.

In some schools, parents will be asked to wait in particular zones for their children, so as to better maintain the ‘bubble’.

Secondary schools are strongly encouraging parents to let their children walk to school or take public transport, to avoid congestion on the roads from dropping pupils off outside the school campus.

As for communication between parents and teachers, schools are attempting to cut down on face-to-face, unscheduled conversations and replace them with direct, digital contact.

Some reception offices will remain closed, or operate under a different system, allowing only pick-ups and drop-offs of items, rather than general enquiries.

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