After the beginning of the UK’s lockdown on the 21st March 2020, it was clear that children and young adults were not going to receive their usual education for the rest of the school year. Despite the encouragement of the continuation of the curriculum and teaching itself, most students were unlikely to find themselves in a classroom for the rest of the school year. My school transferred to an online teaching system; we had our normal timetable and teachers but you accessed the lessons from your own home. For me, this system put me at a massive advantage as I was able to keep up with efficient learning, despite not actually being at school. However, it still understandably wasn’t the same as physically being in school and I was desperate to get back to a normal routine. Fortunately, the time has finally come to head back into school, although it is going to be far from normal. I’ve been longing to get back to normal for so long now, but now that it has arrived alongside the many changes taking place, I’m feeling more apprehensive towards this next move towards the ‘new normal’.
Being totally honest, I was mostly excited to return to school for the social aspect. When you spend almost 25 hours with the same people each week, it’s pretty weird for you to suddenly not be seeing them at all. Due to the easing of lockdown measures, I’ve been able to meet up with my friends again so I have been seeing them more, but I’m still excited to go back and see everyone together, which hasn’t happened for half a year now! I think the social aspect of school is important at the moment, especially with the isolation that lots of people are struggling with at the moment. It will be comforting to be surrounded by the other people in the same situation as you, as opposed to feeling quite alone sat behind an iPad screen… With the restrictions that will be in place for social distancing, we won’t be interacting in the same way we used to, but I believe it will be beneficial for so many of us to be able to see each other every day and find some form of normality.
The biggest effect from social distancing measures will mainly come across at Break/Lunch time and free periods as I think the classroom set up will be much easier to gain familiarity with. As I am an older student, I don’t think our lessons will be affected as much by the new, distanced set-up because we don’t need to interact as much with our teachers compared to the younger, more dependant students. We might not be able to do as much group work, we may not be allowed to share resources and a lot of our work will probably be electronic, but overall it shouldn’t be too challenging. Amazingly, my school has a brilliant technology system, so we will be fine to adapt, but the changes are still going to be present, and possibly at first even slightly daunting… On the whole, I think being in the classrooms will be much more beneficial, mainly practically, especially as I enter the year of my exams. It will be comforting to have access to your teacher and school’s resources, whenever you may need something, rather than having to wait for an emailed response or a WiFi fix!
I think for me, my biggest struggle will be the practical affects of distancing. Of course, there has to be sacrifices for this to work, but it still can feel frustrating when something that felt so simple a few months ago, seems impossible now. I am most likely to come into issues on my Drama a course, simply because we won’t be able to get close, whilst having to attempt to rehearse and put on our last performance. As Drama students, we will find ways to improvise, but it is a shame that our final piece will be interrupted. Similarly, the school show has already been postponed to a later date, and our rehearsals are very limited at the moment. It’s things like this that reinforce the fact that the world is far from ‘normal’ at the moment and remind me that this year will not be the one we all expected. Certain sports are no longer accessible, the café has a limited capacity and a lot of the time I’ll be passing my friends wearing a face covering. The disruption COVID has caused alludes a strangeness to the School, as expected when you are so used to a certain system, but hopefully it will soon all become as second-nature as our old school life was.
Although I have certain nerves and apprehension towards my new school life, I am genuinely excited to go back. I will have to sacrifice my sleep, healthy skin, fashion sense and possibly my immune system, but I think getting back into a proper routine is what will help me achieve my best in next years exams. This is a time of uncertainty for everyone, and I am extremely grateful to be able to start to emerge back into my pre-COVID life, as I appreciate that may seem a long way away for some people. The future is unpredictable and this re-opening of schools could lead to disaster, but part of fighting this pandemic is finding optimism and hoping for the best outcome, hence why I am going to say I do really want to go back to school.