It’s been one of those starts to the month where you wonder if you’re stuck in some kind of Jumanji game and instead of entering August, we entered level 8. It’s ridiculous how fast things are changing, and for me, everything still feels very much up in the air when it comes to returning to school.
A few months ago I wrote this post about schools reopening and why I thought it was a terrible idea, why we wouldn’t be sending our kids back yet and how I really wasn’t secure in the situation. As parents, Adam and I made the decision not to send any of our children back in June/July, instead preferring to keep them at home, something we are all too aware that we are fortunate to be able to do. We kept homeschooling, through the good and the bad, and eventually we decided to have a break for the summer holidays – I have absolutely no doubt that by the time my kids do return to school they will have forgotten everything we taught them and proudly proclaim they have spent the last 6 months using computer games to educate themselves on the mysteries of life.
Our intention was that, when September arrived, we would be more secure in sending them back to school. We did contemplate homeschooling them permanently for a time, it would open us up to travel more and live even more flexible lives, but after chatting to the kids, they mostly wanted to go back to school. Decision made, back to school as “normal” in September… except, it’s not that simple is it?
September is still a month away and already we’re starting to see the cracks in the governments (lack of) plan to get the economy booming again. Let’s open up travel and boarders again, they said… oops, Spain is now a no-go, despite 1.4 million Britons booking a holibob and now having to quarantine for 2 weeks upon return if they have already managed to get out there and are on there way home… I will leave it to you to deduce exactly how that is going to be policed and/or how many people will bother to stick to it. Let’s open pubs and restaurants, setting up a scheme to encourage people to go out and eat… and then promptly point out that these may need to close in a “trade off” to allow schools to reopen (Thank you Mr Whitty) because the UK lockdown easing needs “breaks on it” according to BoJo. Let’s get back to normal, focus on the economy, they said, and let’s see the beginning of a second spike, earlier than predicted in August.
It’s all pretty scary stuff really, beauty salons are now being told they can’t go ahead and open fully to work on the facial area as planned, cases are spiking and teaching unions are asking for more clarity from the government on what *exactly* is going to happen and how are they meant to keep the children and staff safe in school settings.
I’m torn really, truly I am. I want to see a reopening of things as much as the next person, I hate that women are baring the brunt of pandemic effects on careers, I hate that people are losing their jobs, their businesses and their sanity whilst stuck in this terrible predicament, but there has to be a point at which we say “hmm, is this the right thing to do?”
Schools undoubtably have the student’s best interests at heart, and they are doing everything that they can to ensure their safety, but is it even possible to ensure that students won’t pass the virus around and bring it out into the wider community? I have three children under the age of 10 and I can say with 100% confidence that getting them to social distance is about as easy as getting the cat to put on a Pokemon costume and stand still whilst Toby throws poke-balls at him, we’ve tried and failed in a painful way. I’ve given up barking “boys! Social distance, step away from each other!” when we meet up with friends, and to be honest why would I even bother when we see groups of 20 year olds walking around the park side by side and making no attempt to social distance? What is the point? So if we’re pretty sure that kids won’t social distance, we move to the bubble strategy, which is what our children’s school has in place – and it sounds great. No more than 15 kids, no playing outside their group, different equipment… and then my children, who are all in different bubbles, will walk down the hill from school and climb into my car… together… and share food… and lick each other (probably). So again, pointless.
Yes, we’re all still washing our hands, those of us who are sensible (and able because it’s not always possible) are wearing masks and doing our best to avoid sharing potential germs, but is it enough with cases on the rise and the whispers of a second spike?
Localised lockdowns are coming into effect in various parts of the country with the Government taking steps backwards and yet, my biggest issue of all, it will be mandatory for children to attend school with fines back in place for parents who don’t comply. Now, bluntly put, this is absolute bollocks. I mean it is isn’t it? This is a matter of public health, and we’re being told “get your kids in school or we will fine you”. Why? Myself and Adam work from home, not only did we maintain the kid’s education throughout lockdown, but we actually managed to bring them on in leaps and bounds with one on one tuition. Reuben gained confidence in his math skills and abilities, he excelled in lockdown and if he was an only child we would have made the decision to homeschool him permanently, but as it stands we have to think about all of our children. If we see a second spike and we feel that it is better for our family unit to keep the children at home, why should we be fined for that decision? How is the mental and physical wellbeing of our family a matter for a disorganised government, who have displayed a total lack of competence in controlling this virus, to dictate?
Ultimately, I have concerns and questions. As things stand I feel very much on the fence over whether or not a return to school will be right for our family. As with everything in the bizarre and often confusing world of Coronavirus, it’s a case of wait and see what happens next.