Covid-19: The children making social distancing 'fun'

Young people continuing to attend childcare in school use code words like 'penguin' to warn their peers when they encroach on their space

Emma Seith

Covid-19: The children making social distancing 'fun'

It is hard to imagine how you can keep children – especially young children – two metres apart as the rules on social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus dictate.

But the children of key workers who are continuing to attend one Scottish school have come up with an innovative way of warning their peers when they are getting too close for comfort: they have introduced “code words” such as "penguin" and "labrador" to gently tell their friends they are getting too close.

This child-friendly method of staying at a safe distance to stop the spread of Covid-19 was revealed by Alison Irvine, head of Moorfoot Primary in Inverclyde, which, since UK schools closed, has been re-opened as one of the authority’s childcare hubs.


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As well as respecting the rules on social distancing, Ms Irvine said that the children were washing their hand up to six times a day, being allocated a classroom and being cared for in small groups.

However, despite these precautions, she said that the hubs had become “an escape” from coronavirus for both the staff and the children.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme today, Ms Irvine said: “To be honest these are extremely difficult times as everyone is aware and children are faced with Covid-19 or coronavirus on TV and social media. It’s the main topic of conversation in every household and at the hub we are offering an escape for the children and honestly it’s an escape for the staff as well – for the volunteers. It’s a very positive place to be and we are very pleased with how the hubs are operating across Inverclyde.”

When children arrived at the hub for the first time they were shown a “light-hearted” video about coronavirus and how to prevent the spread of infection.

Ms Irvine added: “At the very, very beginning when the children arrive for the very, very first time we go through a little video with them – a very sort of light-hearted look at coronavirus in video form – whereby we talk about how the virus can travel from person to person, and that leads us into the area of social distancing and the absolute importance of that.

“So much so the children have come up with their own little code words that they use if they feel that anyone is encroaching on their space. For example, yesterday it was 'labrador' and the other day it was 'penguin', so we are trying to make these things fun as well as making sure they are safe.”

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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