With a new school year, comes new COVID-19 safety guidelines for all students heading back to full time education after months of being away from school premises.
The Government made the difficult decision to close all schools and nurseries during the height of the global pandemic to reduce the risk of transmission, and ultimately save lives and protect the NHS. As we’ve progressed further into the year, the COVID-19 threat has decreased meaning restrictions are relieved slightly each week. With this, getting pupils back to full time education in September was detrimental for students learning and development skills, but the question is how will schools work in a post pandemic environment, with staff implementing new rules and children following these?
The Governments Guidance for full opening: Schools, states, “Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children… The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school.”
So, what are the new guidelines for schools in order to keep students and staff safe?
According to the BBC News, the main modifications to school life will be the creation of ‘bubbles’ to minimise contact with other students and staff members. These ‘bubbles’ will be dependent on the schools’ size, with primary schools creating classroom ‘bubbles’ whilst secondary schools will have to create year group ‘bubbles’ in order for it to work. Alongside these ‘bubbles’ being implemented, all starting, finishing, lunch and break times will be staggered within these groups, reducing the risk of transmission further.
But in theory, this is easier said than done. Implementing these rules may be difficult for teachers and staff members to enforce for children, so could physical temporary safety barriers be the answer to fulfil these guidelines?
Temporary safety measures could help reduce the risk of transmission by keeping students within their respective ‘bubbles’, helping to stay within the health & safety measures whilst pupils get used to the new normal. Implementing one-way systems within the school could be problematic as pupils may not stick to them, so safety measures could help impose this.
Alongside one-way systems, they could also be used for lunch and break times on the playgrounds, as students may not want to stay within their designated ‘bubbles’, but temporary safety fencing could help section off parts of playgrounds and fields to ensure everyone is safe.
CLD’s FenceSafe Temporary Systems has been used on a number of school sites, and more specifically, a school in Swansea who needed to cordon off sections of their playground to separate the infants and the juniors whilst playing.
The question is, will schools need physical safety measures to help support the implementation of these new Government led guidelines?