Back to school, back to normal?

It’s already been three weeks since my kids went back to school. Although they were looking forward to a bit of normality after six months at home, going back to school hasn’t really been going back to normal.

Initially they were very underwhelmed by their return. As my son said, ‘It’s school, but without the fun bits’. And school without the fun bits isn’t much fun at all. And it certainly isn’t normal.

Like all schools, theirs have had to interpret the government’s guidance as best they can. There are similarities and differences between the two schools, but they have both made lots of changes. Both of my kids are required to wear masks at all times when they are indoors, apart from in classrooms.

My daughter’s school has changed the timings of lunch and breaks, to minimise the time different year groups spend together. Both schools have given each year group bubble allocated spaces where they are allowed to hang out at lunchtime and break time. My daughter’s school has allocated toilet blocks for each year group – which isn’t good for her year group as their block only has two cubicles.

My son’s school has different timings for the canteen. Year 12 aren’t even allowed to use the main canteen and are having their food served in the 6th form block. A more limited menu means my son is taking his lunch in to school every day for the first time ever.

In addition, there are no PE and games lessons for 6th formers, as they just don’t have the space to do it safely. The school does provide it for years 7-11 as it’s a statutory requirement. For a very sporty boy, that is bad news. They have no idea when or if they will get to play rugby matches this year. Most of the schools round here do ‘senior’ rugby ie years 11-13 all in one team. Year 11 went badly for my son as he was recovering from injury and he only managed to play three games. If year 12 is completely wiped out, he won’t be happy.

His school always puts on a massive concert at the start of the year which at least 90% of the students take part in, even the non-musical ones like my son. It’s a big highlight of the year and it’s not happening.

A couple of things which have been better than ‘normal’, from my point of view at least, are that the kids are managing to get themselves out of bed every day and are also making their own packed lunches. I used to spend a good 20 minutes or more every morning trying to get my kids out of bed for school and it wasn’t fun. You know how people always say about parenting ‘You will miss it when it’s gone’? Well that’s one thing I don’t miss and never will. There are also people happy to say ‘You should leave them’ etc etc. For kids who have to be out of the house on time for a bus, that really isn’t an option.

But, for whatever reason, all of a sudden my kids are managing to get themselves up and they’re finding the time to make a sandwich, which I am very happy about.

So, after six months, I’ve got my own ‘normal’ back at home. I’ve worked at home on my own for over six years now. I like the freedom and the flexibility of freelance work. Occasionally I dislike the loneliness, but usually I manage to fill my time with a mixture of work, a few household chores and my running and walking. There were times when I missed the peace when there were five of us (and later three of us) at home. But most of the time, I coped pretty well with trying to work in a house which wasn’t the peaceful place I’m used to.

After all that time, I thought I might miss the kids. But I’m glad to have my ‘normal’ back. Who knows how long it will stay that way, with year groups having to isolate when kids test positive for Covid-19? But I will make the most of it while I can.

One day, life may really be back to normal and back to school actually will mean back to normal. But not in 2020. And maybe not even in 2021.

back to school, back to normal, pencils

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. All the schools have had to change so much to be able to reopen. In my youngest girls school they don’t have to wear masks but at my teens college they do unless they are in a classroom.
    My youngest has gone onto packed lunches too because of all the rules in the dining room. It’s easier to sit outside or in the hall socially distancing from her friends.
    It must be really hitting your boy hard that he isn’t allowed to do PE or sports at school.
    Well done to your kids for getting up. My two are being OK too. My youngest takes a little bit of nagging but nothing compared to how it used to be. x

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    • It’s good to hear that your kids are getting up better too. I think they all seem to find the dining room rules particularly frustrating. My son is very annoyed about the PE situation, but at least he can go to the gym and his athletics club outside school (for now at least!). x

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  2. Sounds very weird for your kids. I think primaries have been much less different from normal. That said, the back to school bugs are back with a vengeance. My older son got sent home with a temperature on day 4 – cue COVID test and home schooling while we waited for the result. It was a really sore throat and I think he was lucky not to need antibiotics.

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    • That must have been stressful with the Covid test. My daughter got a bad cold almost as soon as she was back, which did the rounds of her year group. Luckily there was no temperature, so nobody had a Covid test.

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  3. It is really interesting to see what is happening in different schools and each school is so different! I guess it is because as you say, they are having to interpret the rules rather than all being given the same guidelines. It is certainly a very weird time for them. I’m glad you are managing to get back to a normal work schedule, now I am working full time, I am really missing having that time at home on my own.

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    • I’m surprised at how different all of the schools are. It seems like some of them have made very few changes at all, which seems a bit crazy. I can’t imagine what it must be like working full-time! I do really value my bit of time at home on my own.

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  4. It is interesting to see how different things are at different schools. I think it’s hard to get our heads around it, but the kids seem to be taking it in their stride. We really don’t know how things will play out x

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    • We certainly don’t know how things will play out, but I think it’s going to be a long winter! My kids were shocked by all of the changes at first, but they are getting used to them now. x

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  5. It’s such a shame that the fun bits have gone out of it, especially sport for your son. He must really miss it. I think ‘normal’ will take a while yet but I hope that normal does come before your son finishes school, hopefully next September we’ll be a lot closer to that illusive normal.

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    • I really hope we do get the normal at some point! It looks like it will be next summer at the earliest now. It would be nice to be properly back to normal by next September. I think we all need that – whether we’re at school or not. x

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  6. That’s a shame about the sport. N would be gutted if that stopped, although he’d love it if they had no drama lessons. His are doing 4 PE lessons a week (the head teaches them so it’s chance for her to get time back to do the other work she needs to do. After school clubs are a bit strange because they’re still bubbled within it, and the one he does is a bit rubbish because of that, because there’s only 3-4 from his class, and the rest are mostly KS1, so it doesn’t work really. He won’t continue after half term.

    It’s good yours are managing the mornings better.

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    • It’s such a relief that my kids are getting themselves up at the moment! Four PE lessons a week is amazing! My kids’ primary was always really bad at doing PE lessons. They were lucky if they got one a fortnight. My son is really gutted about the PE lessons, but it’s understandable that the school aren’t providing them for years 12 and 13 as they’re not a statutory requirement. A lot of 6th forms just don’t do them at all. At least he can go to his athletics club and the gym outside school (for the time being, at least!).

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