Young people after several weeks off during lockdown returned to school recently. But life in the classroom is very different than it was before. With lots of social distancing and safety measures in place, has does it feel for young people in this new normal?

We spoke to some of the young people that attend our youth club sessions to find out. 11-year olds Liv who is a pupil at St Bernadettes, and Miah who goes to Oasis John Williams. For both, who regularly, attend inters group, if it wasn’t tough enough going back to school anyway after lockdown, they both moved up to senior school.

Initially it was a bit strange, and Miah felt she had forgotten lots of her previous education. She said: “I was at home for such a long time away from school, that by the time we went back lots I had learnt at primary school I could barely remember. It felt like starting all over again, and I needed to recap on things I had already learnt.

There were some fundamental differences to life in senior school, than in primary, but his was mainly due to covid changes. Liv explained: “We are with the same tutor most of the day, but not on tables with others, but now in pairs the same one each time, and social distanced from others. It felt very different at first,” she added.

“The class sizes have also been reduced.” Miah said: “There are least 15 in each class now, instead of 30. Because of covid they have restricted the amount of people in the classroom.” 

Other changes included lunchtime, where key stages are now separated not together as they once were. Liv said: “You now stay in your key stages when you wait in line. Head up to the bar and kitchen area, then outside of their there is a table where we sit. Normally we all would go in the same place, so its staggered in the time and where we go now.”

Even PE had a very different regime, with games and activities that are less physical and involved less touching. “We get split up into two groups. And the activities are a lot of social distanced ones,” said Miah, adding, “We have to listen a lot to the teacher to how close we can get.”

Liv (left) and Miah talking on zoom about their experiences back at school

All these radical changes can be unsettling, but teachers in both schools were on standby to offer guidance and support throughout. In fact at the start, when all pupils returned, they explained all the news rules very clearly to all. Miah stated: “Yes we did that in our tutor group, we had an assembly about it all on our first day. Teachers went through the rules what you can and can’t do. About social distancing and hand sanitising and stuff like that.” This support has been continuing, as Liv added “the teachers keep needing to remind us a bit, but most in my school are doing it in a kind way rather than just shouting at you 

Despite the support of teachers, the girls still found it tough, and particularly in one area. Friendship. Miah explained: “We can go up to each other and talk, but we can’t hug or touch each other. It’s mostly indoors where its strictest, you can’t get close or touch anyone, you can’t high five anyone. Or go up and play like you would normally would.”

Liv expanded on this by saying, “the hardest thing for me is seeing someone from my primary school and I wanting to say hello and maybe go up and give a big hug to them. And you can’t, and to keep remembering that is very hard.”

Both concede it’s a whole lot better than being stuck in the house, and the one real positive is seeing their friends again. “Yes that’s been great, and getting back into doing things having a routine is good, said Liv.

Miah agreed, but cannot wait for things to return to normal, “yes that’s been the one positive, but there hasn’t been much good about it all really has there?” she laughed, “so to be honest I am just looking forward to everything returning to normal.”

We salute that!