How schools have coped with Covid-19

18 Jan 2022 11:57
Published by: Scott Callan

Since March 2020, schools have had to cope with the new normal of covid-19. We ask the staff and students at a local school about what school life has been like.

Emmanuel Botwe, Headteacher, Tytherington School

It is getting close to two years since schools have been "normal". We've had to cope with lockdowns, bubbles, restrictions, testing, absences and organising grades for students who have not had the opportunity to sit exams to name just a few of the issues.

They don't cover global pandemics in the Headteacher training manuals! Since the end of the autumn term, students have had to wear masks in school. Although we have become used to wearing them, they still present challenges for students and teachers. Communication is crucial in school so mask wearing presents a real challenge for some students in school who are already struggling with language. They are also incredibly uncomfortable for students to have to wear all day. Having said that, we understand why they are in place in schools.

During the year and a half, the important thing for us to reflect on is our core values. We've tried our best to keep our community safe. This has meant taking a lead on test, track and trace in school, introducing bubble systems, an enhanced cleaning regime, masks and one-way systems. The way in which students have adapted has been tremendous.

We have also tried very hard to keep "normal" extra curriculum activities going. In December we held our annual school pantomime and we've kept offering sport throughout. This has really helped students adjust to life back in school.

We also had to make sure that we protected the most vulnerable families in our community. Whether it was visits with food parcels, online sessions for students with special educational needs or deploying our safeguarding officer to support those in need, we've all had to go above and beyond to help those who need that little bit of extra help.

Teachers have had to get used to delivering lessons online. During the last two months, we have had more staff and students out of school as a result of covid infection. We expect students to access online lessons when not in school. This enables youngsters to keep up with their learning, however, it is tricky for staff to balance teaching students in school as well as delivery teaching to students who are at home isolating.

Lissa Cook, Teacher of MFL and Oxbridge Coordinator:

"The students have shown resilience, patience and good humour since whole school lockdowns 1 and 2 and have kept coming to school and focusing on learning despite being bubbled, masked, asked to walk round one-way systems, told to isolate and dial into lessons from home because family's have been ill or because students have themselves been sick. In a world where it's sometimes hard to explain ever-changing government guidelines to adults, let alone children, they continue to amaze me and make me proud to be their teacher."

Liz Healey, Assistant Headteacher, Special Educational Needs Coordinator

Prior to the pandemic, SEND children and their families were already struggling to access timely assessment, diagnosis and support. Then the pandemic struck. First-hand experience has shown that numerous lockdowns and Government restrictions have affected our most vulnerable children the most.

Despite Tytherington making every effort to mitigate the difficulties our SEND students have faced; it shouldn't be underestimated the impact this has had on them. The constant disruptions to services and support have made it hard and as a country we have to think hard about how we keep things going for the most vulnerable in a lockdown scenario. Just as services were getting back to a new 'normal', we find ourselves again fighting to access key services for the young people we support. Facing virtual only appointments, restricted access to medical and mental health support and backlogs in assessments, means that families of SEND children struggle to access the support they need. Twenty months later, we are still waiting to see any significant injection of funding and improvement in the provision of services for those affected."

Isobel Radmall - Year 7

"I had mixed feelings about joining secondary school during covid. Not only was I worried about finding my way around a new school, but also about keeping myself and my family safe from covid. The virtual learning from school was really good and helped me to keep up with my schoolwork whilst I had to isolate when my sister had covid."

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