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Anxious parents decide whether or not to send children back to school

By Dominic Robertson | Oswestry | Education | Published:

Parents across the country will have been wrestling with the dilemma – do we send our children back to school or not?

Emily Roberts, six, is one of thousands who will have to adjust to a new way of life at school under social distancing measures

Without firm government guidance on whether children have to return, families and schools have been left to make up their own minds about when it is safe for their children to go back to the classroom.

One parent whose daughter will be returning to her Trefonen primary school in the coming days is Ruth Roberts from Oswestry.

Ruth, herself a secondary school teacher, said it had not been a simple decision, but that her and her husband Andy had decided it was the best thing for six-year-old Emily, whose older brother Charlie will be staying at home due to being in Year 3.

Emily with mum Ruth at their home in Oswestry

"She is fine at home but I think she's definitely missing the social side of things so from that point of view we are keen for her to go back and see her friends and her teachers," said Ruth, 34.

She added: "She said she's looking forward to seeing friends and teachers too."

Ruth said that a big part of the decision over allowing Emily to go back had been about letting her get used to an environment that may be in place for some time yet.

She said: "A lot of parents say they will send their children back in September but who says it will be better in September? From my point of view I would rather Emily get used to it now."

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Emily is a pupil at Trefonen Primary School near Oswestry

Ruth said Emily's school had created a special e-mail address for parents to communicate with them throughout lockdown and had been in touch in recent weeks to explain how the initial return would work.

Children will be taught in 'bubbles' of 10 children, and will also wear their normal clothes rather than school uniform. As well as a host of measures to ensure children have space the school has also arranged to have different pick-up and drop-off points for different year groups.

While schools have been asked to take Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils in from June 1, the intake is likely to vary considerably based on the capability of schools to prepare for the social distancing measures required – and the willingness of parents to send their children.

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Emily will be at school while older brother Charlie is at home due to him being in Year 3

Ruth said that she felt parents have been anxious about the prospect of their children going back, but urged people to speak to their schools directly – and avoid relying on social media for information.

She said: "It has been a difficult decision because there has been so much negativity on social media about it.

"I think people are anxious about it, some more than others, but I think a lot depends on what people have read about it. A lot of people have been looking at a pictures of children inside yellow circles on the school yard and saying they do not want that to be their child, but when you read about what schools are doing it is not anywhere near as scary."

She added: "People just go to social media so easily. One person shares an article, another does, and it is easier to do that than it is to find out accurate information.

"Just make sure you look at the information from the school and the information the Government has put out and what they are basing it on rather than just tabloid headlines."

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