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Return to School During COVID-19 - Secondary

Moving up to high school is an important step. It is common for children and their parents to have some mixed feelings about this. Feeling excited about some things and a bit nervous about others.

If your child is starting high school in 2020 you and they may be feeling unsure how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect their school life.

No one can be certain of what restrictions might be in place in September but everyone agrees it is important for children to be in school. The priority will be safety for everyone. The schools will follow government advice and do their own risk assessments too. If your child is starting school or moving to a new year group you may be feeling even more unsure how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect this.

School days and routines may be different and this might take a bit of getting used to. Each school will make their own plans to keep risks as low as possible. Get in touch with the school your child will be going to for more information.

Schools will do all they can to make sure children have a good experience and can still settle well. Although some of the usual ways of preparing your children for starting, moving school or the return to school after summer holidays may not be an option, there is still a lot you can do to help yourself and your child feel ready.

  • Your child has already had to get used to some of the changes that coronavirus has brought to all of our lives. Staying home more and keeping away from others.

    Many young people will have found this tough. Not being able to see friends or keep up with usual activities. They may have had to miss out on some of the special events to celebrate the end of year six and moving up to high school. It has not been easy for them. This might mean that they are really keen to get back to school life. Some may feel more anxious because they have got out of the ‘going to school habit.’

    Talking About Their Feelings

    Spend time with your child and ask them how they are doing. Knowing that you realise this is a tough time for them and you are there to listen is really important – even if you don’t have the answers and can’t ‘fix it’ for them. They may have worries about the virus.

     *Click here* to look at our page on talking to children of different ages. 

  • Many of the ways that you would usually have helped your child feel ready for the move to high school are still possible.

    *Click here* to complete our ‘Transition to High School Quiz’ to see information that will help your child prepare.

    All schools will be managing the way they adapt to the pandemic differently to take into account the layout, staffing and the number and age of children attending.

    • Make sure school has your current email, home address and contact numbers so they can keep you up to date with plans.
    • Complete any home activities school provide to help get your child ready.
    • If you have any worries or questions get in touch with school for more information.
    • If you are finding it stressful talk to other parents, friends and family for support – try not to let your child pick up on any worries you may have.

    School may not be able to offer the visits and activities that they usually use to help them get ready for the move. Remember the staff are experienced at helping children settle into high school. You can help it seem more familiar to your child by;

    • Going on the school website together to look at any photos or videos of school.
    • Letting your child try on their school uniform and gather the equipment they will need. Encourage them to feel positive and excited about their fresh start.
    • Taking a walk to school so your child can have a look at the outside of the building.
    • Looking at online resources about starting high school. BBC Bitesize have lots of ideas and games to help your child know what to expect at school *here*.
    • Get back into school day routines in plenty of time. *Click here* to look at our page on back to school preparation.

    It might seem a strange time for your child to move to a new school. Your child is still going to have the chance to enjoy their time at school and get used to the new people and routines. Try and look forward to the new experiences ahead.

    Remember that children have a very low chance of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. Schools are following all the advice to keep the risk as low as possible and protect the children in their care.

  • Handwashing helps prevent catching the virus. Remind your child to regularly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds each time. This is always important but even more so at the moment. Your child should be washing their hands often, especially when they arrive somewhere new and when they arrive home. Schools will have regular handwashing time too.

    Hand sanitisers can be used when you can’t get to wash your hands with soap and water but your child should still wash their hands a soon as they can. Set a good example and show them that you take handwashing seriously too - it is a very important way of preventing germs spreading.

  • The government recommend the wearing of face coverings or masks in some situations to help prevent the virus being passed around. *Click here* to look at our page about using coverings and masks.

  • Keeping at least one metre, and ideally 2 metres, away from people we do not live with reduces the risk of the virus being spread. This is hard for high school age children as friendships are very important to them.

    Reassure your child that although it makes it harder it does not mean that they can’t spend time with their friends, it just means following the rules. It is important they know that we all have a responsibility to do what we can to stop the virus spreading.

    Schools understand that young people need to have the chance to socialise and will make this as safe as possible. They are finding ways to keep the number of different staff and other children they are in touch with low.

    • Talk to the school to find out how they will be managing this so you know how it will work for your child.
    • This might mean they cannot be with best friends in the school day – encourage them to use social media and socially distanced contact out of school to keep in touch.
    • Make sure your child has a picture of how far one and two metres is in their head – look on a tape measure, get them to picture the distance when they are with others.

    Remind them that they just need to try their best. If they do get closer than this they should just move away as soon as they can.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 


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