THE UK has met the five tests for lifting lockdown meaning we are now moving to alert level 3 and schools are opening their doors again for certain year groups.
Today (June 1) sees the first step in the reopening of schools for young primary school pupils that are taking on crucial transitioning years.
⚠️ Read our UK schools reopening live blog for the latest news & updates
Who goes back to school today?
Children in reception, year one and year six are going back today to join the kids of key workers.
Children in year 10 and year 12 are expected to be sent back to classrooms next, around June 15, before the summer break, to get some face-to-face time with teachers to help their home learning before tackling their exams or future careers next year.
While the Government has said parents won't be penalised for not sending their kids back to school when they reopen, it is "strongly recommended" children should return if they can.
Contact your doctor if you have concerns about your child's health, or could pose a risk that they might infect vulnerable people in your household with coronavirus.
You can see the list of conditions that require shielding here.
Schools in Scotland are looking to return on August 11 and Northern Ireland is looking for a date in September.
You can find more on schools reopening here.
What happens today when schools reopen?
Children in reception, year one and year six are all in crucial transition year groups that will prepare them for the rest of their education, and the Government is keen to get them back for at least a month of learning before the summer holidays.
Kids and parents will need to follow strict new social distancing measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The measures will see class sizes limited to 15 students, staggered lunch breaks, and one-way systems in corridors.
Some schools have adopted their own measures to prevent spreading the disease – including one that is planning to put children inside a hoop on the playground.
The classroom will look different – decorations are out and learning will be a little less hands-on than it has been in the past.
Ministers have gone to great lengths over the last few weeks to assure parents and teachers it is safe for school doors to reopen after hardline unions pushed back against a June 1 reopening.
For details on exactly what your child's school is doing, please check with their website and social media page as it will vary.
The councils who have cast doubt on the Government plans
Barking and Dagenham
Brighton and Hove
How can I support my child with the transition back to school?
The best thing to do to support their transition is to calmly discuss the information you have with them so they have a good idea of what to expect.
You should also teach them routines to protect them, like putting hand sanitiser on regularly, the importance of social distancing, and the fact that you will only be able to drop them off at the gate and won't be able to hang around.
The classroom environment will also be more intimidating. Classrooms will be bare as displays aren't allowed so you will need to reassure them about the fact that there won't be the kind of decorations they're used to seeing.
It might be wise to practice some of the new social distancing measures, like playing while social distanced, or lining up a big distance apart.
They will likely be separated from their friends and have a desk to themselves. You will need to reassure them that it is not a bad thing and teach them about why they can't sit with their friends.
Many teachers, particularly those who are vulnerable or have family members that are, will either be absent or wearing masks.
It is important to reassure them who will be in their new class if they are used to seeing their friends in a bigger class, so they know who they will be with.
Water fountains are banned and the windows will be kept open with a massive emphasis on keeping everything spotlessly clean.
Lots of schools are adding more hand washing stations and doing staggered lunchtimes, this will be a bit confusing for kids who are used to hearing the bell and racing out to play.
However, the kids aren't going to be left out in the desert
Bryony Baynes, Headteacher at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester said: "Realistically, as I have said to parents, I can't promise you that the little ones will be two metres apart at all times – they are four and five years old."
"If a child falls over, we are still going to pick them up and cuddle them."
You should also prepare something good for them after school as they will likely experience a lot of stress during their first day.
Will my child need to wear school uniform?
Pupils will be told to leave their ties, blazers and bags at home in most schools, but it depends on the school so please check.
Most schools that ask pupils to wear a blazer, tie, hat or any other “non-essential” items, will be telling children not to wear them.
A few schools have even advised pupils to wear their PE kit every day instead of their normal uniform so they won't need to use changing rooms after sporting activities.
Some students have been told not to bring in any of their uniform that isn't washed regularly in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus too.
What is and isn't allowed today?
There are a few extra rules coming into play as schools hammer out how to deal with "the new normal"
Children must not bring in any equipment from home. This includes:
- Pencil cases
- Anything they are likely to share with one another – crisps, sweets, crayons etc
These items will be provided by the school.
It is wise to provide your child with a mask as this will drastically increase their chances of not picking up any germs.
Sadly, younger kids will not be able to bring cuddly toys or other non-essential possessions to school either.
Children are allowed to bring in healthy snacks they will not be allowed to bring in chocolates, crisps or sweets.
They should also bring any medication they need with them.
Waterbottles are subject to individual schools.
If you have any specific queries regarding your child, you should contact their school.
You can also find more information on the do's and don't's here.
Will my child need a packed lunch?
It is wise to make a packed lunch as it will reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the canteen.
It also reduces the risk of coronavirus spreading between pupils and canteen staff.
Dr Jenny Harries said fears over lunch boxes spreading coronavirus were low.
She said: "The issue about lunch boxes is that they're quite personal to the child eating the lunch, and I can almost guarantee that one child won't want to eat the lunch of the one sitting hopefully two metres distance from them."
Can I take my child into class?
Mums and dads are being given timed slots to drop your children off to avoid crowding at the school gates.
Parents will also be barred from chatting and loitering to maintain social distancing, and will have to queue up like you do at the supermarket.
It is wise to adopt a 'drop and run' approach.
How will drop off and pick up work?
The overriding strategy will be to promote social distancing when dropping off and picking up pupils by reducing the number of families there at any one time.
This is being done in various ways, but the ones that seem to be working in countries like Denmark that returned sooner than the uk are:
- supermarket-style ques to drop off kids
- scheduled pickup times
- a part-time return that sees small groups in each day
- masks need to be worn by parents
If you can, talk to local key worker parents who are already doing it at your school as they will be used to the system.
If you haven't been contacted by your school then check their social media and website. Your local council should have more localised information too, and your local paper will cover it as well.
Have parking rules changed?
No, but social distance as normal and look for spaces that give you the space to do so – the weather's beautiful so consider parking further away and taking a longer walk to the school gates.
Again, please check this with your local school.
What if I have children in different year groups?
There are only a limited number of year groups going in tomorrow.
If you have children who are not in those year groups then they will be homeschooling as corona-normal unless advised otherwise by their school.
Where can I find more information?
The best place to find the information for your school is from your school and your local council.
We are doing lots of articles and explainers on schools reopening, bringing you the most up to date information as it breaks.
You can find everything else that we know here.
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