I sent my daughter back to primary school today- after 10 weeks of social distancing. Covid-19 is in my feed daily. I also have also posted about it and, I must say that until very recently I was nervous about sending her back. This morning, she insisted she wanted to stay in bed all day, but I insisted. I am so happy to be able to say it went really well. So what changed my mind? Or did I have no choice?

Was I not at all worried?

I was! I have not been at school teaching key worker children, as I have asthma so was on the ‘at risk list’. Nonetheless, I knew as a teacher, when I had to go back, I would have to go back.  This did not make me feel any happier about the idea of sending my daughter back. Day after day, I read on social media how parents were choosing not to send their children back. As a single parent and a teacher, it was unlikely I would have the option. I blocked this from my mind as best I could and researched what was needed to make return safe.

The announcement confirming when schools were to reopen wasn’t due until 28th. With 1st June set as a possible the first day back, I was on tenterhooks, but of course did my best not to transmit this to my daughter. I talked about the imminent return lightly- just dropping it into conversation here and there. After all, I didn’t know enough to share more.

What changed my mind

I did my best to prepare her- myself being a teacher, I had read up a lot about what was required to make it safe.

Just before May half term I got some messages from her school. They shared how they had prepared for year 1 coming back. It was clear they had thought it out well. What is more, they shared a ‘Coming back to school social story’ with pictures. This social story was so the children could see the familiar as well as the differences. It was very reassuring. To explain the changes, they used language such as:

‘There are lots of things that are still the same’

‘You may notice that…are covered up; this is so that (things are kept nice and clean)’

‘just for you’

‘lots of fun’

covid-19 back to school playground safety

How things were to be was mapped out from arrival, to during the day and going home at the end of the school day. The photos of how things are with arrows and short explanations were perfectly clear as a parent and great for sharing with your child.

The first day back

My daughter was insistent she was going to spend the day in bed. Was she ill? No. Was she worried? Yes. It was almost like starting a new school year after such long time away and not seeing anyone to boot.

I didn’t push and get all ‘you must’ or ‘if you don’t then..’ I was calm and explained it was not an option to not go into school, that if it was really bad, they could call me and explained that it being the first day back, it was important so she knew what all the rules were.

‘I am only going in if I can take in our cat’ was the comeback. Clearly this was not possible. I explained why. We settled on taking something else in that would make her feel at ease, that wouldn’t need food, water, to wee etc 🙂

The best part was the end of the day when I went to pick up my daughter. Not only had my daughter had a brilliant day, she was in the best mood I have seen her in some time.

I asked her what she had done:

She told me she had done some learning, been praised for her maths, played, chatted with friends, had lunch under a tree outside and washed her hands ‘after every activity.’ It went well and I hope it is the same for all other children back to school across the country.

A big thank you to all her teachers.

You may still not be keen to send your child back to primary school. Or maybe you had to, but reluctantly? Whatever your circumstances, I’d love to hear from you.