Parents will heave a sigh of relief on Monday but schools must not obsess about catch up - Catherine Scott

So back to school on Monday and let’s hope it means the start of things getting back to ‘normal’. Although I do feel like I’ve said that before and then look what happened.

Pupils at secondary school will be recommended to wear masks in classes when they return on Monday like these in Scotland(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The difference this time is the vaccine. The scientists’ gamechanger that we should all be so proud of. Something that normally would take ten years has taken a matter of months – and it is working.

There are a few who, for whatever reason, are refusing to have it, but far fewer than I think even the health experts imagined. As a result hospitalisations – particularly in the higher risk over 85 age group have reduced significantly. But the virus has not gone away which is why Boris Johnson’s so-called road map out of lockdown may feel painfully slow to many.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The first move is all pupils back in schools on Monday which must be a massive relief to lots of parents, many of whom have been juggling working from home with home schooling children and parents need to be back in school.

But it won’t be school like they know it. My eldest has to go for the first of her coronvirus tests on Friday before returning to school on Monday and having her second – if the first is negative.

Masks will have to be worn, even in the classrooms, which will be a challenge not only for the pupils but for the teachers trying to understand questions and answers from behind a mask. I have to say I am struggling to understand the need for this increased mask wearing. Even when the pandemic was raging for a second time and they were still at school masks only had to be worn while moving around the school and as far as I am away school transmission was pretty minimal – if at all. My daughters were both sent home to isolate a total of four times before schools closed again in December. It was deemed they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive and yet neither them nor any of their friends ever contracted the virus. I do wonder on what medical basis they will now have to wear masks all the time when transmission rates have plummeted. But I suppose if that, and testing, 
are the price top pay to get them 
back in the classroom then we will take it.

I just hope that schools focus on the positives and don’t keep harping on about ‘recovery period’ or ‘lost generation’. These children have been through enough and the toll on their mental health is still an unknown quantity. The majority have come up to the mark and engaged with on line lessons and still managed to learn in trying circumstances. We need to be kind to them not over load them with too much too soon in order to ‘catch up.’