Our students are starting to come back into schools! Despite staying open for key worker and vulnerable children it has been so lovely to see larger numbers of students now attending school every day. Year 6, Year 1, Year 10 and Year 12 are now finally back with us and it is brilliant. I can hear children’s voices in corridors, see staff smile and there is some sense of normality returning.
The schools still feel very strange, socially distant lunches, hand sanitisers, constant hand washing and cleaning have become our new normal. I do feel for youngsters who have been so desperate to see each other for months who are now standing in lines two metres apart being made to access the building via a hand washing station and not have very much time to socialise.
It is, however, a beginning and gives us hope that before too long we will have our communities together again and schools full of noise and hustle and bustle.
It is as we imagine this return to normality we pause for thought about whether there are lessons for us going forward that we need to learn. Do we actually want to return to the same school system we left? Do we need to spend five or six hours a day teaching in a classroom or can other media be used? What do staff meetings look like in the future? Could we work from home more?
As we grapple with the lessons from Covid and the possibilities that doing things in new ways have opened up for us. I am mindful of using the right language to describe these times. Talk of a lost generation, learning gaps, catching up, whilst indicative of the challenges we have all faced will not in the long term serve our children well. Rather our narrative going forwards needs to be of new opportunities, expanded curricula, ambition and high expectations. Our children need to feel confident about their future not see themselves as victims in some calamitous event. Our role is to provide them with that confidence and help them grow to become the best they can be, Covid or no Covid, our mission to serve and build up does not change but indeed becomes even more crucial.