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'This isn't going to be normal': schools prepare to welcome back students amidst new social distancing rules

Schools in the Diss Express area are preparing to separate children into groups of eight – called bubbles – in an effort to enforce social distancing guidelines.

Teachers will be introducing two-metre rules, amongst a number of other social distancing measures, before reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children return to school in less than a fortnight, but one headteacher has voiced her concern over the lack of clarity and “downright impossible” expectations set by the Department for Education.

Moira Croskell, headteacher at Dickleburgh Primary School, said age groups will be separated into bubbles and will share the same break times, stationary and play equipment, while being shielded from children in other groups.

Schools will be welcoming back reception, year one, and year six pupils in June. (35027209)
Schools will be welcoming back reception, year one, and year six pupils in June. (35027209)

Mrs Croskell said: “This isn’t going to be normal school for any of these children – it’s going to be very different.

“We’re going to have to put the children into small groups, and the [Department for Education] guidance says they don’t want these groups to mix.

“They will have a box of play equipment and their own set of stationary, and that won’t go to the next class.

“They will have their own desks that they work at, two metres away from one another, and we’ll have signage and markings that the children can understand.

“There’s no precedent for us here, but we are doing everything we can with the resources we have got.”

At Wilby Primary School in Eye, all pupils – including reception age children – will be given their own desks, and designated play areas will be set up where they can play games with one another – albeit while keeping two metres apart.

The school is also expecting to have one member of staff for every four pupils.

Headteacher Roisin Wiseman said: “They will have different areas in the classrooms where they can play and, once they have, it will be cleaned down.

“They will be able to play things like card games, but they will have to adhere to social distancing.”

A number of pupils, who are children of key workers, are currently attending both primary schools, so teachers have already implemented a number of rules, in line with current government instructions.

Concerns have been raised, however, about how clear the guidance is.

Mrs Croskell said: “They inform us of the new guidelines at six or seven at night and we have to come back into school the next day and decide what to do.

“We need to know that we are doing the right thing for everybody, and we need to know that we have got the proper guidance and support from the Government.”

Dickleburgh Primary School will be undertaking a deep clean over the half-term break, thoroughly cleaning every surface in the building in preparation for the influx of pupils.

Despite their efforts, the teachers have conceded that some expectations, such as social distancing during break times, will be difficult to adhere to.

Mrs Wiseman said: “We’re just gently encouraging them to keep their distance, but, at break times, they will have to be closer together.”

Mrs Croskell added: “Some bits are downright impossible.

“We will have small groups in big areas, but we can’t stop a child going over to play with another child, or they’ll think they are in trouble – it’ll be hard because they don’t understand.”

What do you think? Let us know by emailing duncan.bradley@iliffepublishing.co.uk.

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