Teachers have taken to social media to reveal the realities of social distancing in classrooms as schools reopen more widely today.
They have posted images of their real-life classrooms to counteract portrayals in the media of schools where pupils sit behind perspex screens or sit two metres apart.
Teacher Emma Stanley posted an image of her Year 6 classroom of 35 children.
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"I'm lucky to have the largest room, but I have 35 children so moving 18 tables into rows means we can't easily move around or access the drawers at the back. Every corner is a door or sink that we can't block. No social distancing. No screens," she said.
This is my classroom. I'm lucky to have the largest room, but I have 35 children so moving 18 tables into rows means we can't easily move around or access the drawers at the back. Every corner is a door or sink that we can't block. No social distancing. No screens. #edutwitter pic.twitter.com/SEbNFIDtJr— Emma Stanley 🙋🏻♀️ (@MissStanleyYr6) March 7, 2021
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And one secondary teacher posted an image of her classroom with desks in rows, with no available sinks – although she said there was a "bottle of sanitiser" by the door.
Mine are in rows but as it's secondary there are no sinks or anything else as such. I do however have a bottle of sanitiser on the wall by the door 😆 pic.twitter.com/TshQiHM8Ti— Miss Thomas 🙋🏽♀️ (@Miss_DThomas) March 7, 2021
Another secondary teacher posted an image of a group of desks very close to the board, saying "definitely 2m away from the board apparently. Nothing to see here".
Here's a space for a small group of ks4 students.— Accidental Teacher (@harrison3142) March 8, 2021
Definitely 2m away from the board apparently.
Nothing to see here. pic.twitter.com/0xYH9ydqsC
That’s mine (photo taken in September but it’s exactly the same now!). 26 children. pic.twitter.com/iFM9ZXyfvj— Ali Williams (@indieali74) March 7, 2021
Many teachers said the realities of their classrooms were nothing like the images of schools and their social distancing measures being depicted in some parts of the national press.
One teacher posted an image of a classroom for a Year 9 bubble, with only two windows that could be opened a few inches, as well as desks placed very closely together.
5 classrooms like this for a year 9 bubble, note only 2 Windows at the back actually open about a few inches since it is upstairs. The heat in summer makes the rooms an oven! This is an improvement as well as I removed resources and decluttered rooms. pic.twitter.com/OU2So4hA8y— Brent Poland (@BrentPoland1) March 7, 2021
And one teacher doctored a media image of how classrooms might look as all students returned today.
There you go, I’ve fixed it. If only they’d asked a teacher eh! pic.twitter.com/dkoHeNCLFd— sara h 🇪🇺 (@lifeatthenest) March 7, 2021
She added a "howling gale", 30-plus students, "work from lockdown thoughtfully displayed because we've been working" and a 75cm gap between students and teachers to the image, which originally showed students distanced from each other by perspex screens at separated desks.
And she also revealed how teachers might approach seating plans in a cramped classroom after lockdown, with one student chosen to sit at the front "because teacher knows his dad is shielding and he hasn't been out for nine weeks", while another child has been placed right at the back of the class as "after every weekend she has reported on Zoom that she's had a sleepover with a different child but her mum says it's a bubble, so it's OK".
As another teacher commented, her picture may still have been overly generous with space.
I feel there’s still far too much space in that classroom! Where are your cupboards and trays? Put them at the edge of the room and squish those tables closer together, then highlight the ‘just wide enough for one human’ aisle down the middle 🤣— Amy (@CarbonZero91) March 7, 2021