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  • Writer's pictureEquality Act Audits

Back to school - the new 'normal'

Today all children return to school in what will be an experience like no other. After a very difficult year, going back to school brings with it many changes and challenges for pupils, teachers and parents.

New rules to be implemented to ensure safety for all have added extra pressure to schools during what is already a busy time of year. The schools are not the only ones facing additional pressure to ensure they are ready, going back to school in September is often a nerve-wracking time for children too. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has added even more uncertainty as to how it will all work for the pupils too.

While COVID-19 remains in the community, the risk is very low for children and returning to school is vital for their education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children.

Schools are therefore doing all they can to balance minimising any risks by maximising control measures with providing a full educational experience for children.

Some of the practical measures that schools have implemented include:

  • Staggering the start and close of the school day

  • Staggering mealtimes

  • Moving classes to temporary spaces or outdoors

  • Increasing hygiene facilities - including handwashing, respiratory etiquette (i.e. coughing and sneezing into the elbow), physical distancing measures, cleaning procedures for facilities and safe food preparation practices.

To add to this, administrative staff and teachers have to undergo additional training on physical distancing and school hygiene practices.

Many schools are also having to consider helping their pupils 'catch-up' on time missed during the lockdown. This possibly includes starting the year with refresher or remedial courses, after-school programmes or supplemental assignments to be done at home.

With all of the additional measures in place, schools must also think about their Accessibility Plan. If teachers are to wear facemarks, have they considered children with a hearing impairment who can only lip read? Is additional support in place for those who are struggling to cope with returning to school? Are there hand-sanitisers in place at an accessible height? These are just some of the issues schools must consider when thinking about accessibility and the impact Covid-19 has on it.

We are able to write your Accessibility Plan and advise on new measures to be put in place in response to Covid-19. Please get in touch for more details.

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