It's fair to say we are living in unprecedented times, and life is again about to be turned upside-down for parents of primary school children in England. While schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain closed to all except children of essential workers, schools in England have been instructed by the government to begin a phased reopening from Monday 1st June.
The idea is that children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will be the first classes to return, with extra measures in place to safeguard the children, with other classes to return at a later, unspecified time.
Those are the facts, but as a parent of a Year 6 child I can tell you that it's definitely not that simple. My son is supposed to be returning to school on 1st June, and my head is buzzing with concerns and questions. The pressure is immense, as our local authority have said that it's not compulsory and they will not be fining for non-attendance, so I'm left with one of the most difficult decisions I have ever been forced to make; do I send my son back to school on 1st June, or keep him at home?
While I'm hoping it doesn't need saying, the decision for every parent is a personal one, and no-one should be criticised for whatever they choose, as each family's (and school's) circumstances are very different. As parents we are all just trying to do what's right for our children, and for Year 6 kids that's balancing the risks in the short term with the longer term advantages of being able to prepare them for the transition to secondary school. I don't mind admitting that I am completely torn.
Without breaching the school's confidentiality I can say that our local education authority has said that they are not implementing a blanket return to school as per the government's instructions, but are instead consulting with schools individually about how many classes they can safely teach whilst keeping to the social distancing rules. It seems that other councils are saying similar things, and will only allow classes to return when it is safe for children, teachers and school workers to do so.
My children's school have been fantastic about remote teaching, with daily work and updates, and I truly do trust them to do what's best for the children. The measures they are putting in place are very detailed and well thought out, however this is still a very tough decision for us to make, and we have to do it as a family.
Whilst my husband is being calm, logical and sensible about the situation, I have regressed to a purely emotional reaction, with it taking on the importance of a 'life or death' choice in my stressed haven't-left-the-house-in-two-months mindset. I know I need to calm down a little before we talk it through, as I've been reminded that a discussion when tensions are high are never productive, so we're all taking some time to think first.
Are you in this situation of having to decide whether to send your child back to school in less than two weeks? How will you choose what to do? What are your concerns? Hopefully we can help and support each other through this, as the first set of parents to be put in this position. Let us know your thoughts in the poll below or in the comments.