Finding our new normal

Hygiene: cleaning and sanitising hands and surfaces

Some primary teachers have, quite rightly, questioned how on earth they are to clean all the resources used by children. Do they have to sanitise every pencil and every paint brush after each use? Clearly this is impractical.

We suggest children should bring in their own, labelled resources in a fabric pencil case and not share pens, pencils, glue sticks, scissors etc with anyone else. This removes the need for teachers to have to clean resources every day and reduces the possibility of cross contamination between pupils.

Learning new habits

Regular handwashing, while controlling the number of children visiting the toilets at any one time, is another challenge but one that can be managed on a rota system. If you have outside handwashing facilities, even better but we can’t think of many schools that do. Regularly sanitising door handles, worksurfaces etc will also be necessary using products with a high alcohol content or antiviral action (we’re using Milton’s fluid, which is effective on viruses within 15 minutes). These new regimes can be made a more positive experience by including learners in their development and implementation. Ownership and autonomy are powerful tools to increase engagement

You’ll know the best way to involve your pupils in this. Every group is different and you are best placed to know how they tick, but we thought perhaps older children could be given jobs to help with cleaning, managing the handwashing rota, encouraging people to keep their distance etc?

Could you involve them in designing these systems to help them feel more in control as they learn new habits? They are more likely to adhere to the new rules if they’ve had a role in designing them.

Another effective way of normalising a strange situation is to include learners in discussions about the best way to do things (ideally before they come back to school); how are we going to keep the classroom super clean? How are we going to share handwashing facilities? How are we going to keep some distance between each other? Building a sense of inclusion and autonomy makes it far more likely that children will engage in their strange new rituals and learn new habits. If you can ‘gamify’ the new systems, by implementing a reward system, this too will help make these new behaviours more enjoyable and rewarding – perhaps you could get them to design the reward system too?

"Children are more likely to adhere to the new rules if they’ve had a role in designing them."