Watching our 10-year-old son, Jack, walk through the school gate for the first time since the Covid-19 crisis began was a strange, almost surreal experience. Many schools in Almuñécar were not opening due to strike action taken by staff over the lack of measures taken to protect both staff and pupils.
So, how did Jack’s school, CEIP Rio Verde in Almuñécar, fare in relation to preparations for the new school year?
The downside was the lack of information before the return. Parents were not given any information at all until two days before the pupils were due back when we received a list of 19 items we were somehow required to find or purchase, plus a document for us to read listing all the protocols we needed to be aware of due to the Covid crisis. This document was 66 pages long. We also had a Zoom meeting with Jack’s teacher the day before the return.
Being a parent with a fair bit of experience, I managed to fill his backpack with recycled exercise books from last year (basically ripping out last year’s work and re-labelling) and managed to translate the protocols down to one sentence, “wear your mask, don’t share stuff, keep your distance and do as you’re bloody well told.”
The first day was an 11.00h start and parents were told that entry would be flexible, so you could turn up later to avoid the usual crowding at the gate. CEIP Rio Verde is lucky in that the school has three entrances. However, in line with Spanish tradition, the gates opened late and of course by the time they did open, there was a whole crowd waiting to enter. Had they opened on time, it would have worked perfectly.
On the plus side, the school had worked out a fantastic system of coloured lines (Jack’s was the blue elephant line). Each pupil had their temperature taken as they entered and then stuck to the line all the way to their classroom. All the corridors are divided into two and the stair bannister rails are taped off with warning signs not to touch.
Unfortunately, the distancing inside the classrooms is not ideal, with desks just one metre apart. But the teacher had told us the day before in the Zoom meeting that they did not have the space or the staff to do anything about it.
CEIP Rio Verde is a fantastic school and we have been blessed that Jack has spent his first school years there. Yes, there are teething problems since the crisis, but, like many of us, the school and its staff are just trying to do their very best and adjust to this strange new world we’ve had thrust upon us.
(News/Editorial: Almunecar, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)