Back to school we go – life in the time of coronavirus

The last time I shared a post about Coronavirus was in June, and once again things have changed, and back to school we go, next week for the teenager.

Almost six months ago, schools closed across the UK (although now our government is claiming they actually didn’t close, but the majority of children left school just before the Easter break and didn’t go back)

Now, it’s almost September and the expectation is that all children will go back to school. In Scotland and other parts of the UK, they already have gone back. In England, we start back next week and the week after.

It’s been the strangest six months my children have ever know, other than last year when their dad was recovering from illness, I think this has been the hardest thing we have faced as a family and now it’s all change and we send the teen back to school. We were very lucky in many respects because I was already homeschooling her brother and her school have been excellent about home learning and support and she’s worked hard to keep up and do her schoolwork, keep contact with friends and manage, despite the challenges and being stuck at home 24/7 with her parents and brother.

How do we feel? What do we think? Where are we at?

There has never been a question of keeping her home if school was an option. Whilst I feel a LOT of anxiety about her returning to school, partly from my own long term anxiety issues, and partly the fears and worries I think most parents are dealing with in this extraordinary time, I know she needs to be back in school.

I did offer her the option to be homeschooled. She refused (I have to admit I was relieved, I am not sure I am in a place to manage two children, and secondary education, just yet).

She loves school and has blossomed, thrived and done well academically.

She wants to see her friends and teachers.

She wants a bit of normal back for her own mental health, and for her learning needs.

So, new uniform is bought, stationery supplies are ordered, the detailed plans from school on staggered starts, class bubbles, hand hygiene, sickness policies and plans to keep children and staff as safe as they can, have been printed and read, and mostly understood.

And next week, I will send her off. Back to school.

It’s a hard decision to make.

I feel that our governemtn has mismanaged so much of this time, and the issues around Covid19, and no one can, for sure tell us that our children will be safe back at school. They have prevaricated, faffed, backtracked, changed plans, given poor support and advice and the latest issue around children wearing masks in schools has just shown their lack of ability to manage things in a way that makes any parent feel confident about sending children back.

You turn on the tv or open social media, and there’s an article or a scientist telling you it’s safe and fine to send your kids back to school and the minimal risk they will get sick (or die) and then the next day you read information saying children spread the virus just as much as adults and ‘dozens’ of schools are shutting due to it’s spread. The media, have, I think been equally as appalling in all of this as our government has, in sharing alarming information, misinformation, sensationalist news, saying one thing one day and another the next. It hasn’t; helped. Other countries are doing blended learning, online school, part-time school. Here in the UK, children are expected back, full time, IN school. There are few options for parents otherwise and not everyone wants to or can homeschool.

I have deliberately kept out of parenting groups and pages where talk of back to school abounds, because there is SO much emotion flying around and views on whether our children should be going back, and as usual strong voices on either side, determined to be heard loudest and an astonishing lack of grace and a lot of judgment for people’s choices based on their family needs. My mental health in all of this COVID rollercoaster has been up and down, so I have chosen to not expose myself to the barrage of that, as much as I can.

So, I will send her back. Armed with facemasks, hand gel, her head full of the new rules about what she can and cannot do for social distancing, and hope that it’s the right decision. We hope that she doesn’t catch Coronavirus. We don’t know how she will be affected by it if she does. We hope we don’t have to face her being sent home, self-isolating because she’s been exposed and we have to follow rules. We hope she and her peers have a relatively ok new term and time in school. It’s a lot of hope and a hell of a lot of unknown. The only thing that keeps me vaguely ok in all this is knowing it’s not just me, and parents all around the world face this.

I would love to keep her home. Parental instinct is to protect our children and want the best and safest for them. I would love to wake up tomorrow and for this to be all over, vaccine sourced, cases dropping, people going back to normal. But that isn’t happening any time soon.

So, we do what we think is best, for us and her. We hope that we aren’t taking too great a risk, but we also know she needs some normal and to be where she will learn best.

I feel sick, then I feel a tinge of happiness at the vague hint of some normal.

Back to school we go… who knows how it will all be?

Posted in Family Life and Parenting and tagged back to school, Back to school we go, Coronavirus.