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Why isn’t more being asked about this?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by PeterQuint, May 26, 2020.

  1. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    No, I assume nothing from that.

    I’ve certainly not seen a single word from the NEU which suggests they’re prepared to simply drop social distancing whilst it’s still in place for everyone else.

    In this instance I’m not entirely convinced that “We’re prepared your work with the government” means “We’ll agree with everything the government wants”.

    indeed, to the contrary.
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    The relevant part of the letter to heads says:

    We must, together, recognise that this same expert opinion suggests that it might be safe to open on 15 June – just two weeks later. This advice suggests that risks to adults and children would have halved during that time and that risks to the community would be much lower.

    We have made clear that we would work together with the Government for a phased wider opening from 15 June – dependent on widespread community testing and tracing and ministerial engagement with the NEU on questions of social distancing and protection of vulnerable staff.

    We would like to work with school leaders on a similar timescale.

    As a trade union, is it also important for us to say that the Government has not given us modelling of the risks to various categories of staff, including BAME staff for example.

    We want to work with school leaders on the issues around vulnerable staff in particular and we will support our members who feel that they must continue to work on the present patterns in order to stay safe.

    We want schools to open more widely and children and young people to get back to a life of greater normality. But this can only happen if parents, the community, school staff and children feel safe and cared for.

    So, I agree they aren't just dropping social distancing, but they are working more individually with schools and heads to ensure members are safe.
    agathamorse and PeterQuint like this.
  3. CabbageWhite20

    CabbageWhite20 Occasional commenter

    As I see it the big difference between junior and senior schools is that the ‘bubble’ approach can’t work with specialised subject teachers. Junior schools can create ‘bubbles’ of staff and teachers and try and contain spread that way, so accepting that social distancing isn’t really possible with younger children (bad luck if you are unlucky enough to get an infectious bubble of course).
    In a senior school it is theoretically possible to distance, and in all likelihood the distance will have been reduced from 2m by September, but small consistent bubbles aren’t compatible with changing subject groups/teachers. So you won’t need extra teachers and groups of 15 you’ll need lessons being taught exam style in sports halls. Only there aren’t enough sports halls. And the kids will be crammed together on school buses anyway.
    It’s anyone’s guess what will happen, but I’m going to plump for a ‘normal’ September start with usual routines other than a bigger focus on hygiene. Possibly the token gesture of no assemblies. As we all know there are endless ramifications (changing rooms/sport/shared computers/queues...) and I think it’s so complicated the answer will basically be business as usual*.

    *unless you are a choirmaster
  4. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    I don’t know about everyone else, but in normal times our corridors between lessons are heaving.

    I heard someone else say that it’s so crushed they could life their feet off the ground and they’d just keep moving, the crowd is so tight.

    It may be that 2m is reduced to 1.5m or something, but however it’s worded, everywhere will be required to attempt to maintain at least some form of ‘low contact’.

    If the guidance at any future point has anything in it al all about trying not to get too close, then 30 in a classroom, and everyone in school at once won’t be doable.

    Numbers aside, this is going to affect other areas like group work, staff circulating, possibly even marking.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. CabbageWhite20

    CabbageWhite20 Occasional commenter

    I think that for all of those reasons just about all of the restraints in schools will be scrapped before September and replaced with ‘wash your hands’ (only of course there still won’t be enough sinks or soap).
    We might keep the ones that schools like (e.g. no parents on site) and maybe not have assemblies for a bit, but any sort of distancing/bubble approach prevents such logistical barriers I think they’ll be abandoned.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    September is three months away.
    Let's look back three months...end of February. We'd barely heard of coronavirus in the UK, never thought of social distancing, furlough was unheard of, etc,etc. We hadn't even considered panic buying loo rolls and pasta and would have thought the idea was crazy. (Some of us still do!)

    By September there is every possibility that 'business as usual' for school will be fine. We cannot possibly predict or suggest what we need just yet.

    But only essential visitors (not parents or ofsted) and no assemblies or staff meetings sounds really sensible to me.
    Cornholio72 and agathamorse like this.
  7. CabbageWhite20

    CabbageWhite20 Occasional commenter

    I’m not sure about that. I’m pretty sure we had kids who were returning from some countries quarantining when they returned after February half term. I also remember not seeing my parents then because the vulnerable were already taking extra precautions. And we’re not in a ‘no idea what’s going to hit us’ scenario now, we’re navigating our way out of a known situation, with other countries (whose situations are not identical) at least a month if not more ahead of us. We’re definitely in a position where it is possible, and maybe even sensible, to be talking about September.
    But I’m not really thinking about sensible precautions, predicting what ‘science’ will tell us to do(!) etc., I’m guessing that expediency will triumph and we’ll have a pretty normal start.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Schools around here certainly are expected to enforce it, and are planning to enforce it, and will be using other buildings as classrooms, outside of the school grounds.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    All children are not returning at the moment.
    EYFS and some primary children are returning and the guidance is that social distancing is not expected.
    There are so few children returning that all schools have the space to accommodate them or choose not to have year 1/6 returning yet.

    Anyway, how on earth can you possibly know the details of what every school in your area is planning?
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. crumbleskates

    crumbleskates Occasional commenter

    In discussing more children returning (ie more than R/1/6,) Nick Gibb did not mention a date, he did mention rotas however. In BJ briefing no mention either suggesting they are softening their stance.
    We are doing SD as much as we can and if we need to take more we will look at a rota but ideally not half days due to cleaning etc. Think for the future we need to be more proactive- this is our staff, our rooms, our needs, what we can offer is...that’s what’s happening in a lot of schools already.
  11. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    Let’s just have a think about that for a moment.

    The virus won’t have disappeared from the planet, but where will we be? Look at New Zealand. One case left in the country.

    But they’ve done that by locking down quickly at the start, and staying there until nearly done. And yet even now schools are not back under ‘normal’ conditions.

    But we’re taking a different approach. We haven’t got cases down to zero, or even close. We’ve got cases down to low-ish levels and are opening up slowly to see if we can keep that steadily falling.

    Where will that leave us in September? Who knows. But three months ago New Zealand were in a better place than we are now.

    I think it’s quite possible that 2020/21 might be a year of social distancing and disruption.

    Time will tell.
    Pomza and agathamorse like this.
  12. CabbageWhite20

    CabbageWhite20 Occasional commenter

    I’m also interested in all of the comparisons being drawn between our school reopening plan and those in mainland Europe. Are any other countries going for the bubble/not distancing approach in elementary education do we know?
    My statistically significant data survey of one child(!), son of a friend in Germany, says no. 9 year olds where they live are doing 2hrs per day in either morning or afternoon with distancing - no playtime etc. and cleaning between groups. No masks while seated at desks but otherwise masks. 7yo sister has just returned for 1hr per day, same conditions.
    Now it sounds horrible and I don’t think I’d send my own children in under those conditions, and I understand mask use like that probably isn’t actually doing much good, but it is definitely different to our strategy and means we can’t really compare the effect of their reopening to what might happen here. I think they reopened with a lower R number than us and have since seen it rise, though I would need to double check that.
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    But it won’t be ‘reasonable’. As you are no doubt aware, once schools are reopened to all pupils, it will be, in the majority of cases, impossible.
  14. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    in the majority of instances, this will not be possible. Also, if you effectively create further classes by reducing the amount of people being allowed in one classroom at a time, you will need further staff to teach them - staff that don’t exist and there is no money to recruit anyway.

    Plus, seeing as most schools are still scurrying around figuring out how they are going to safely teach just three year groups, I’m surprised to hear that any meaningful plans already exist for the unknown date when everyone is back.
  15. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    not finalised, just becasue it is quite clear that the school building cannot accommodate more than around a quarter of the students, different accommodation is being sought
  16. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    This is a circular argument. I agree. But for that reason, schools shouldn’t reopen to all pupils, at least not all at once.

    At the moment it’s unclear if this is what the government will do. But I think, quite clearly, it’ll depend on how the numbers go between now and September, and what restrictions are in place elsewhere.

    I just feel the government will be on very shaky ground if they insist on 2m (or 1.5m, or whatever), everywhere except schools.
  17. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    I think the truth that we all need to recognise, regardless of how we may feel about it, is that schools will be fully open again before too long, probably in September, and that means that we are frequently going to be closer than two metres to others. We can’t magic up more rooms, we can’t magic up more staff and the government’s need/desire to take care of wider social/economic matters will trump any perceived additional risk to school staff.

    I think the fact that schools have been instructed to begin reopening from Monday, which already means some staff and children will be closer together than two metres at times, demonstrates that ‘social distancing’ in schools is not the government’s priority.
    Last edited: May 30, 2020
  18. mrajlong

    mrajlong Senior commenter

    Anyone driven down their local High Street recently? The one near me was business as usual - nowhere to park and loads of people on the street. The only discernible difference was that there were some queues outside the shops that were open.

    Anyone been to their local park? Loads of groups of people and no social distancing! Local beach/beauty spot?

    My fear is that this flippant abandonment of the lockdown rules by a significant number of people may well cause another "peak" in a week or 2 weeks' time! Or a significant rise in the R. By this time I will be back in school, as well as a lot of other year 6, 1 and R teachers. And this will also perpetuate any spreading of the virus caused during the last few days/weeks of craziness!

    It's all happening too quickly. I would not be surprised if, just like in S. Korea, we see schools being locked down locally where infections are identified.

    Anyway, it looks like I will just have to get on with it and hope for the best that my bubble stays safe - for my sake and the sake of my family as well as the kids and theirs!
  19. crumbleskates

    crumbleskates Occasional commenter

    I agree. The big concern too is that those children on those beaches and elsewhere will be in our schools next week.
  20. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Yeps! Lockdown is well and truly over.

    Easing measures from a Monday was always going to mean everyone eased them over the weekend as well...
    Pomza and agathamorse like this.

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