SCHOOLS have banned singing and stopped parents coming past the gates as they reopen in Northern Ireland today.
One school has even introduced compulsory face masks for staff and students over fears of spreading coronavirus around classrooms.
For Forth River Primary school in the great Shankill area of Belfast social distancing will be impossible with its has 212 students.
But principal Judith Stevenson told The Guardian the seven classes at the school will operate as “social bubbles” with no interaction with other groups.
Students won’t be allowed to eat in the school hall or have PE lessons in there.
Singing lessons are also a thing of the past for kids.
Ms Stevenson said: “Singing was always part of our lessons and was a way to help children get to grips with numbers and words.
“But we can’t sing with them because it produces more droplets in the air and so there can’t be singing in class.”
The Department for Education has said there is an “additional risk of infection” in environments where people are “singing, chanting, playing wind or brass instruments or shouting.”
Ms Stevenson said many of her colleagues were “stressed” about returning to school, even though they have the option of wearing face coverings or visors.
She said: “I too have my reservations and feel we are running headlong into this but what can you do.”
Schools in Northern Ireland have reopened as:
Some parents have been told they can’t go past the school gates when dropping their kids off and picking them up.
Our Lady’s Primary and St Malachy, both in North Belfast, have said parents cane only enter the building by appointment.
As in Our Lady’s Primary, pupils at St Malachy’s must use sanitiser every morning on arrival while their parents cannot pass the college gates or enter the building unless by appointment. Unlike BRA, however, face masks will not be compulsory at St Malachy’s.
Among the measures at Our Lady’s Primary, children’s school bags will be replaced with a “box file” with books and stationary.
The files will be kept at school and wiped down every day.
Books and other equipment should not be brought home.
The children at the all-boys grammar school St Malachy’s College have been told to avoid public transport where possible.
The measures being used at schools in Northern Ireland show the lengths teachers are going to to get kids back in classrooms after six months out of school.
Hardline teachers unions have continued to try and instil fear in their members despite the PM’s fresh plea over the weekend to focus on saving children’s “life chances”.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said they were “extremely worried” Covid-19 would spread rapidly through Northern Ireland’s schools and spark a second wave by October.
The fears have been shut down by chief medical officers from the four nations who, over the weekend, put out an unprecedented statement saying the risk to children was “very small”.