The majority of children across England returned to school on Monday 8th March. Of course, some still attended due to being either vulnerable or having keyworker parents.
For some, Monday brought excitement and a sense of freedom; for others, it brought an impending sense of doom, increased anxiety and a feeling that it was the wrong time.
Personally, I am torn over how I feel. Both of my daughters have missed school: the structure, the staff, their friends, the socialising, the escape, the being away from me!
Of course, Covid is still a significant threat to society; I will never forget that for a minute. However, at the same time, the damage being done to the mental health of young children is significant.
On the other hand, school staff are almost unprotected against this vicious virus. As a teacher in a special school, I feel lucky that my local authority decided to vaccinate us along with care workers. However, it also makes me feel guilty that my mainstream counterparts have not been offered the same opportunity.
As I drove to work on Monday, I spotted an enormous banner that had been made by one local primary school. It said: “Welcome back, everyone!”, and I welled up. While our home schooling experience was far from normal, and I recognise that both of my girls were desperate to regain some form of normality, I had never properly considered those children who had still been attending school regularly. How must they have felt without so many of their peers around and potentially with different teaching staff, too?
Social media has been rife for people throwing around their opinion left, right and centre. For those amongst us, happy to be regaining a little bit of freedom, some me time, a break from the endless multitasking of home schooling and paid work, snide comments could make us feel guilty. And for those concerned about sending our children back into a potentially unsafe environment (despite the amazing amount of effort and measures put in place by our schools), we may also be feeling cross that others do not share our sense of frustration and panic.
Ultimately, in all walks of life, we will encounter people whose views are at the opposite end of the spectrum to our own. Being respectful and trying to understand that their experiences have shaped their opinions are both essential steps to take. And we all want what’s best for our children. Hopefully, the end is in sight, and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting ever closer.
I’d like to end this blog post full of my thoughts with a little message of thanks to all of the wonderful nursery and school staff out there, who, whether working from home or their usual workplace, have been doing a fantastic job. In the words of Julia Donaldson (Stick Man):
Thanks, thanks a million,
Thanks without end!