Parents worried their children’s school ‘bubbles’ are too big, survey reveals

How have you found sending your child back to school? Take part in our survey to share your thoughts

How have you found sending your child back to school? Take part in our survey to share your thoughts Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nearly 60% of parents said they are worried about the size of their children’s class bubbles in Suffolk and Essex amid coronavirus fears – with more than half calling for face masks to become compulsory in schools.

The findings come in a survey of nearly 200 parents from across the two counties, which asked families for their thoughts and experiences of sending their children back to school amid Covid-19.

The survey asked a range of questions, including how parents felt about sending their child back to school, what they think of the bubble size their child is in and whether the safety measures in place are enough.

42% of respondents said they were “very nervous” about sending their child back to school, while just 18% said they were not worried.

More than 58% said they were worried the size of their child’s class bubble was too big – with many people suggesting that classes should be cut in half and the two groups should attend on alternate days.

One person said: “There should be a rota system. 50% of the class goes in and then it switches, two weeks in and two weeks out.”

Another added: “Social distancing should be enforced, staggered start times should be more than five minutes and there should be compulsory mask wearing in corridors.”

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Among the other suggested safety measures were daily temperature checks and more strict rules regarding social distancing of parents at school drop-off and pick-up hours.

Despite this, 61% of parents surveyed said schools are doing all they can to keep their children safe.

And even though 48% said outbreaks at other schools made them worried to send their children in, more than 70% said there have not been any issues so far.

Many parents praised their school’s efforts and said they receive regular updates regarding suspected cases.

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One parent said: “I trust the school to manage the situation. Childhood and education are too important to sacrifice.”

Another added: “My son is happy and the school are doing all they can to keep the children safe.”

Allan Cadzow, corporate director of children’s and young people services at Suffolk County Council, reassured parents and carers that schools have been working hard to welcome students back safely.

“Whilst many children and young people have enjoyed a full-time return to school, I know that this has been an anxious time for some families across Suffolk,” he said.

“I would like to reassure families that schools have been working extremely hard to welcome back pupils safely during what is truly an unprecedented time and I want to once again publicly thank all involved in these efforts.

“Each school is different and will have set specific systems in place based on individual risk assessments.

“These include staggered start times, staggered break times, increased hygiene and children remaining in consistent groups. These steps are all contributing to minimising the risk while allowing teachers to get back to teaching children.”

Meanwhile, in an open letter to parents and carers, Essex County Council recognised the hard work of school staff who spent the summer preparing and making their education settings as safe and welcoming as possible.

It said: “We’ve been delighted with the way pupils, parents and carers across Essex have adapted so quickly to the measures education settings have in place and the start we’ve collectively made to the new school year and have been pleased to hear many stories about how excited and happy children and teachers have been to returning to the classrooms, getting back into learning and being able to socialise again.

“We hope you will continue to support us and your schools to ensure that this is able to continue for as long as possible by taking all measures to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 and allow the continued and sustained opening of schools.”

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