Teacher Life – #TestingTimes

Well, hello there, Peeps!

It’s me, back again, musing on a Thursday abot the strange world we’re living in, especially the world of schools.

As you know, I’m not a huge fan of remote learning, and honestly, there are very few teachers worth their salt, who would honestly say they prefer the systems in place now, as opposed to face to face teaching.

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I won’t wax lyrical again about the same thing, though.

A quick update. Week one was much smoother than I had imagined, and I embarked upon the calls for week two, as well as having students in the classroom, it being my turn this week. Aside from two parents who asked about the possibility of Zoom, or live lessons, everyone else was pretty happy. A few needed a little urging, again, to make sure they were helping their child to access learning, but there were at least a few who made a point of saying how happy they were with everything we were setting.

I’ve received photos of work, and even some wonderful videos of children demonstrating their learning. It warmed my heart!

Right. Update done.

What I was going to discuss today was the testing regime that has been suddenly flung into the picture today by the DfE for teachers in Primary School.

‘Apparently’, all Primary schools are going to be sent sets of Lateral Flow tests for school staff to utilise every day, if someone was to test positive, who was a possible close contact, I think, or maybe it’s a set of tests we are all to do every day? Still no clear guidance… surprised? I’m not!

So as long as you are getting negative tests, you keep coming in to work.

Though, these LF tests are around 50% accurate, so we may still end up in school, actually positive, but with a result that said negative…

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And if you test postive? You have to go and get a proper test, and isolate for 10 days.

Here’s hoping that doesn’t mean we end up shutting schools, if the ‘inaccurate’ tests tell a whole staff, or the majority, that they are positive!

Oh, well, onwards and upwards, eh!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 302 – Christmas 2020

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Christmas isn’t a parade or a concert, but a piece of home you keep in your heart, wherever you go.”

Donnaa Vanliere

Thank you. Spidey, for finding some words to soothe, at a very tough time.

Earlier, I was wallowing, because it was confirmed that a colleague of mine, that I had contact with, has tested positive. this meant that I was to be in self-isolation for ten days, taking me up to 27th December.

Yup, missing out on Christmas, totally.

But the rest of the family would be okay. They could, at least, go and see the in-laws, and there might have been some semblance of normality.

We were just getting ourselves prepared.

I’d already bought a frozen turkey crown, pigs in blankets, and all the veggies, and crackers, etc, just in case of us being at home, rather than with the extended family. Presents were ready for a doorstep exchange, just in case, too.

And the hope was, that on the 27th December, the last day of the 5 day Christmas Grace that the Government had deemed a possibility for families across England, we could all be together for a short while, at least. (Providing I don’t feel unwell, or end up testing positive myself in the next few days.)

But at 4pm(ish) on Saturday, BoZo and his clueless minions took the decision (which they should have taken ages ago, when the virus numbers started to rise considerably) to cancel the original Christmas plans of three households being able to mix between 23rd and 27th December, and they have also introduced a new Tier 4, (under which we are, now, too, being in Kent).

So from tomorrow, we are effectively in lockdown, again, until at least 30th December. No non-essential shops to be open, no indoor gyms, hairdressers, nail salons, etc. No going into other households, unless you are in a support bubble. Only meeting maximum of one person from another household, outside.

It’s gutting for those who really had their hearts set on seeing their families for the festive period.

I, for one, would usually be seeing my parents for a couple of days. I’ve not seen them since August. But we had already decided that their safety was more important, and that video calls would be the plan for the day.

But I think what is important to remember, is the essence of the quote above.

Christmas is in our hearts. And even if it has to be a quiet one this year, the hope is that all the cancelled joy we have experienced this year, will mean we are safer, healthier and happier, for the next one.

So… tell me, how are you feeling, if the new Christmas plans have affected you?

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Have a peaceful Sunday Peeps.   

Dance #writephoto (and a socs rant…)

Sue’s #WritePhoto prompt this week:

Partners bowing down
While facing one another
Ready to perform
Their first dance, after a break
But, can they keep their distance?

Ritu 2020

Today’s poem is less about dancing and more about my thoughts as we are preparing for maybe going back into school come June 1st.

I am a Reception teacher, the 4-5 year olds, and they, along with Year One and Year Six pupils, have been suggested as the first classes to head back to school when the time is right.

My first thoughts?

How on earth can we socially distance thirty 4-5 year olds (x2) in a classroom, and outside at playtime?

Apparently, by halfing the class numbers… and using other teachers to take smaller groups, staggering drop off and pick up times and playtimes and eating lunch in our classrooms.

Will we get PPE?

No, because the govt doesn’t think it’s worth it. (But at least my head has ordered some things, just in case.) Seems that as it is nigh on impossible to socially distance them, what’s the point? Oh, and they are less likely to suffer from COVID-19… Actually they are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers… So they may not suffer… but what about us?

Am I going to bring it back into my home?

This is the scariest part. I can’t see other members of our family, they can’t even meet their own grandparents, but we can mix as a teacher with her class. Then we all go home, and there is the potential of infecting our own loved ones, if someone in that group is carrying the infection asymptomatically.

Do I want to go back?

This is a really tough one. I desperately miss my class, and I am anxious because I know there are many who are going to be falling behind in their learning. But, are we safe? We are trying to keep abreast of learning by using online methods, but these things are not as easy for the younger children. Older kids can access the online learning much easier than the little ones. They need practical, hands on activities to help them learn. So, for my babies education sake, I do want to go back, but I am not wholly convinced yet, that it is right.

Quite honestly, I feel like a guinea pig. Are the government sending us back first, to see what happens? If a few extra children and teaching staff fall ill and/or die, will that be the cue for them to decide to close again?

I’m not sure I want to be a guinea pig…

Chai And A Chat #76 #ChaiAndAChat #CoronaDiaries

Well, hello there everyone! It feels like it is a very different world I am living in, as I type this, compared to last week. Still filled with uncertainty and worry, but more… stark. That is the only way I can describe it.

From this week, I will still be sharing my Chai with you, but these will be my #CoronaDiaries. A view from the eyes of a teacher as well as what is happening in life.

But let’s start with a recap of last week!

  • On Monday, my colleague and I had a course to go to, so off we trotted, and the course was about changes in the curriculum, but each section was peppered with comments basically saying “If we’re still in school,” or “if we finish this year…”. It was hard to think about changes in next year, when this years education was so up in the air. We got confirmation from our colleagues that the class numbers were 20 and 17 respectively, in our two reception classes, out of a posible 30 in each. This was as a result of people self-isolating, if there were symptoms, as directed by the government. The next day a message was sent to confirm that if you as a parent were concerned, then it was up to you if you wanted to keep your children off. That meant a further drop in numbers. Tuesday mine was 19 the others 13. Wednesday was 12 and 8. Thursday was 7 and 5. Friday was 6 and 5… Whether these were scared parents, or self isolators, it remains to be seen, but if I was a parent, I’d have been trying to send them in, knowing that a closure for a LONG TIME was due…
  • We did our best, as a team, to keep upbeat. You know me. I’m always up for silliness. We amalgamated the two classes and really let them do fun stuff, alongside learning, then on Wednesday good old BoJo (don’t know why, I always seem to say Bozo, instead of BoJo, and have to correct myself!) announced blanket school closures as of the end of the school day, on Friday. Even more reason to keep the kids we had in, smiling. So on Thursday, some decided they wanted to go trick or treating. They dressed up from my home corner, and went knocking at the tables in the classroom, shouting “Trick or Treat!”. That wasn’t sufficient so the next stage was them asking us teachers to dress up , in costumes designed for kids… well, you have to indulge in these sillinesses, for the kids, don’t you?
I think I make a great Spidey carrying Goldilocks!
  • We have been using the Pirates theme to base our learning around and had things been normal, this Friday coming was to be our dress up as Pirates day. Well that was obviously not happening, so I talked to my team and we decided we would dress up to entertain the kids who turned up at least, on their last day. Kudos to the ladies who work in my class. They know the lengths I would go to and they heartily joined in. The other class, not so much, but at least the children were all going to be together, so they all benefitted from our silliness!
Meet my crew! That is me, Captain Stinky Jo, the Lady Buccaneer, on the left!
  • But what of these school closures? What was going to happen to us all? Despite the announcements made to the nation on Wednesday, the government still hadn’t cleared up a huge amount of niggly information needed for these closures to take place. He told the world that school was closed for everyone, except the children of keyworkers (detailing only three examples; front line NHS workers, delivery drivers and police), vulnerable children, and those with EHCP plans (children with complex educational needs, who have an agreed plan.) this brought up a quagmire of questions from parents and schools alike; Am I a key worker? If this is social distancing, why are teachers not allowed to stay at home? What are we going to do with our children? Who needs to be in school and who doesn’t? Well, there were no real clear answers until Friday morning, by which time, so many rumours and theories had been thrown around, that no one really knew what was real and what was suggested. To cut a long story short (ish) we are all still going to be in, in our school, as I write this (plans could change at any moment) and four teachers will be with the children who will be allowed to come in. They will be split into two age groups, and there is to be no official curriculum learning happening, more a childcare facility, with more arts, crafts, music, story, PE, creativity. How many children we have will change daily, depending on the shifts people work. It has been made clear that if you have the chance to keep your child at home, it is safer for them, rather than sending them to school, but we are here to support. We will be using the Joe Wicks live streaming PE at 9am every morning, to get the kids going, and I have even got a friend who will be doing three live Learn Bhangra sessions for an alternative physical activity too. May get the kids up and dancing.
  • As for the rest of the weekend, I was nervously excited because I had my radio interview, didn’t I? But no, it was postponed because the virus talk went on and on. The editor didn’t want to just squeeze me in, so we will be rescheduling. Disappointing, but it makes sense. I comfort ate cake instead!
  • Right, enough of that… So, the weekend was also Mother’s Day here. The kids hadn’t bought me cards, but Lil Princess painted me a picture, and Lil Man wrote me a card with some of his loose change taped to the back! 😂Then we popped over to see Mum in law to drop off some flowers for her, and came back home, after finally locating some beer for Hubby Dearest (this panic buying led to NO BEER! Tragedy!) We even squeezed a rather windy, brisk family walk to the prom, in the afternoon too! I had a lovely chat with my own mummy too.
  • I have to be honest. Yesterday was the first time I allowed everything that is happening to get to me. Maybe it was because it was Mother’s Day and I wasn’t able to see my mum. Maybe it was hearing that my best friend’s husband is unwell, suspected Covid-19 and he’s a paramedic. Maybe it’s because I’m scared because I am going to work tomorrow, while my family are safe at home… But I cried. A little. I am going to have to be so much more stringent with everything. We have told my in-laws, categorically, that we won’t be coming round now, unless an absolute emergency. There are two diabetics in that house, a heart patient, an asthma sufferer and one with a weak chest. We’d rather video call them, and see them healthy, rather than risk passing the virus on to them as we are more out than them, especially me. I will have to get in, shower and change my clothes before greeting my own family, with an el-bump, rather than a hug. I am going to miss hugs, from my babes at school, and my friends and family. I live for hugs. I want you all to start air hugging right now. Wrap your arm around yourself, and give yourself a huge squeeze. Imagine, me standing in front of you doing the same. That is my hug to you ALL!
My Hug to you ❤

My final words to you this week, as I prepare myself for what will be a scary, strange week, will be please stay safe, stay at home.

Love you lots, Peeps ❤

Seva is the Sikh principle of Serving Selflessly

#CoronaVerses

It seems the whole COVID-19 has got my poetic juices flowing, in a kind of stream of consciousness way…

#CoronaVerses

Self-isolating will be easy
If we ever need to, it seems
We tend to do it regularly
In a house of tweens and teens
 
Right now, I’m gracing the sofa,
Hubby’s upstairs, chilling in our room
Lil Man is on his laptop
Li Princess in her own little vacuum
 
The only difference, I think, will be
New supplies of anti-bac,
Regularly bleached surfaces
(By me - they don’t seem to have the knack)
 
The importance of handwashing
Has been truly hammered home
And cleaning down their electronics,
Especially their phones
 
If you’re going to cough, then I insist
Into your elbow or a tissue
And please make sure that when you’re done
Put it in the bin or I’ll take issue
 
Not quite sure what to say about
The necessity of toilet roll
Still, at least we have some
So I guess we shouldn’t moan
 
Every morning, recently, I’ve been
Greeted with one query
“Is today the day that schools are shut?”
My response makes them less cheery
 
“Not yet my loves, your school’s still on
No extended hols just yet”
They really don’t seem to realise
Just how fed up they’ll get
 
As panic ensues out in the shops
And crazed buyers empty shelves
They really should take stock
And be ashamed of themselves
 
For as they buy that extra pack
Of toilet roll, or wipes
That’s one less roll for someone else
Why are you buying all the hype?
 
Think sensibly, buy cautiously
Just make sure you have enough
And, maybe check on others
Who might be finding it tough
 
We’re all set, in case we’re told
To have a lengthy bunk-in
I’ve got my books and chocolate
And plenty of Pink Gin!
 
 Ritu 2020

Seriously, Peeps, I don’t wish to make light of this pandemic that is affecting us all out there.

Keep up the extra vigilant hygiene, be careful of where you are putting your hands, and cough into your elbow if you need to.

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Don’t go crazy with panic buying. Don’t worry, the shops should get better soon, the panic buyers should go into hibernation with all their extra stock.

Check up on the vulnerable that you are aware of, especially if they live alone.

And I found this graphic, which is a good basic indication of symptoms, in comparison to colds and flu. I hope it helps to keep people a little calmer.

Stay safe, all my beautiful warriors. We got this, we can fight it!

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