How can we safely social distance at school?
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How can we safely social distance at school?

22 May 2020 By The YPO Team

Empty classroom

As we anticipate the return to school for early years, some primary schools and potentially some secondary schools, many are questioning how it is going to be possible to adhere to social distancing in the classroom and throughout the building.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how a school chooses to prepare but there are lots of recommendations and examples of how it can be done. We have rounded up some of the methods schools can use based on government guidance, including the Department for Education, and other ideas for social distancing,


Limiting pupil numbers

The government has said that, where necessary, due to not being able to achieve physical distancing schools may choose to cap the amount of students allowed in school at a certain time if they physically do not have a large enough space to social distance.

This could mean reducing class numbers significantly for some schools, and as most are still open for vulnerable children and key workers' children, they may not be able to fit more  in the room.


Staggering/splitting class times

An alternative to limiting pupil numbers could be having multiple class groups at different times of the day/days of the week to keep numbers low whilst allowing more children to come back to school.


School and home learning

Another option being mentioned is introducing a one week on, one week off, or similar approach, where students are in school learning for the first week and back to home schooling for the second. This could work with staggered class times by splitting pupils into two or more groups.


Using floor tape, stickers, and signs

Although we all know that two metres is the safe distance, many of us don’t realise what that distance truly looks like, so we can’t expect children to either. A quick and easy solution is to lay down floor tape in the classroom and around the school to mark out two metre distances. Marking out specific walkways and one-way systems are other options to consider.

There are many pre-designed stickers and tape you can use but you can also get custom made solutions.

Posters and roller banners are also great additions to place around the school as a reminder to social distance.


Classroom redesign

For larger schools who have the space to play with, a classroom redesign could be an option. There are now ways you can look to add design features that help with social distancing and make the classroom a safer environment.

A smaller school that is limiting the number of pupils could also benefit from a redesign to add an extra level of safety to a classroom.


Use the great outdoors

One option that is being mentioned a lot, and has been seen on the news in countries that are ahead of us in reopening schools, is outdoor learning.

Schools don’t have to keep pupils inside all day, there is the opportunity to take more learning outside into the playground or playing fields, especially when the weather is nice.

The main benefit here is that you have much more space to use and can distance the children more easily. It is also great to be outdoors and promote learning in new ways.


These are some of the main suggestions that have been made across the industry but we’re sure there are many other options. If you have any ideas that you want to share with others, comment below or tweet us @ypoinfo with #yporeturntoschool!


Categories: Education

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