Coronavirus: How schools in England are keeping staff and pupils safeHerson Abinon
Coronavirus: How schools in England are keeping staff and pupils safe.
Smaller classes, staggered start times and individual desks are among measures recommended by the government as schools reopen.
A sign reminds pupils about social distancing at a primary school.
Schools across England are beginning to reopen after they were shut to most pupils in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
But children who have returned to school have found things very different to when they left, with a host of new safety measures in place.
While it’s up to individual schools to decide how to open safely, the government has issued guidelines on the types of measures it thinks are necessary for children and teachers to stay safe from coronavirus.
So what are the sorts of new measures being adopted by schools?
Lessons resume at Queen’s Hill Primary School, Costessey, Norfolk.
Smaller class sizes
One of the most noticeable changes will be in the size of classes, as the government says primary school children should now be taught in groups no larger than 15.
The limit also applies to vulnerable children – and children of key workers attending school from other year groups.
For years 10 and 12 students there is no limit on class size, but the guidelines suggest only a quarter of pupils should be physically in school at any one time.
Children have been back at school for the first time in more than a month
Children at most schools will now be asked to wash their hands as soon as they arrive to help stop COVID-19 being passed between them.
They will then be required to regularly wash them throughout the day.
Plenty of hand sanitiser should also be provided for students in places where enough sinks are not readily available, such as in a classroom.
Areas and objects that are touched by several different people during the day – like desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets and light switches – must now all be cleaned regularly.
Communal areas in schools have been taped off as part of the measures.
No sharing of resources
In order to reduce the risk of the disease being passed on, children should be provided with their own personal equipment where necessary.
At Handcross Primary School in West Sussex, this means reception children will each get their own set of toys on their desks and are not allowed to share them with anyone else.
They will also continue to use iPads and other tech in school so that they do not have to share textbooks.
The government recommends toys, books and outdoor equipment that has to be shared should not be used unless it can be cleaned regularly.
Pupils sit at separate desks at Hiltingbury Infant School in Hampshire.
While the guidelines accept that it will not be possible to keep children two metres apart at all times, most schools that are reopening are taking steps to keep them apart where possible.
Stickers on the floor are being used to show pupils how close together they can get in corridors, while desks have been removed to allow children to sit two metres apart from each other.
The government has also recommended implementing one-way systems around schools were possible, so students do not mix outside their class.
Playing games and sports at break time is also limited to those that do not share equipment and that can be done at a distance.
Pupils line up to go into school while maintaining social distancing.
Arriving and departing school
Staggered start times and finish times are now recommended in order to make sure that students from different classes do not mix as they arrive at school.
Parents are also encouraged to cycle or walk to school to reduce the pressure on public transport.
At many schools, parents will no longer be allowed on to school property to reduce the risk of infection.
Instead, they will have to drop their children off at the school gate, while teachers supervise them inside.
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