Just as I was considering what my next Watch & Game post should be about, something happened which changed a lot of things for us and people in general across Britain. So I decided to write about that instead…
Wednesday 18th March 2020
This was the last day of ‘school as normal’. At 12:45 we were expecting to have a meeting after school to talk about our ‘roles & responsibilities’ in a potential closure situation which might happen at some point… About an hour later, Kirsty Williams announced that all schools in Wales would be closing by Friday at the latest… Cue the continuous checking of phones – ‘surely not!?’, ‘whose got data?!’, ‘It’s on the BBC, it must be true!’. The rest of the day was spent fielding questions from inquisitive youngsters; ‘why? … who said? … how long? …’. Of course at that point in time, we were just as clueless as them. At 15:10, I saw the quickest assembling of staff for a meeting in my ten years of teaching – anyone would have thought we had just been told the school was about to close… It was confirmed that all schools were closing early for Easter. We would have one more day with students tomorrow and an INSET day on Friday. At 17:15 Boris Johnson announced schools would be closing across the UK and that exams in England and Wales were being cancelled this summer… I mean, it made sense because the Government had been saying for some time that people should not be going to pubs, concerts, gyms etc.; that they shouldn’t be meeting in groups of more than 50; but it was still very strange. I sat quietly for a while, trying to get my head around this utterly bizaare situation. I was also concerned that my parents were venturing out for their usual Wednesday evening drink but thankfully, the pub was closed. …what a strange day.
Thursday 19th March 2020
This was our last day with the kids in school. Very strange and emotional sort of day. Lots more questions, including those about the cancellation of exams which again we could not answer. Students were everything from distraught to ecstatic. Some disappointed at not being able to prove themselves in exams; others thought that Christmas had come early with bonus time off school. Lots of smiles and tears. Wondering whether we would see our lovely classes again. At lunch time, some of our awesome Sixth Formers brought us wine and chocolate and we chatted about the lessons and laughs we had shared over the past year and a half. We took a (very responsible) socially distanced selfie with them and they were on their way. More tears from us, and I think them too.
Friday 20th March
INSET Day: School is eerily quiet as it always is when there are no students and the atmosphere amongst the staff is one of ‘erm…well…what now?!’. After a moral boosting sing a long to ‘Give Me Oil in my Lamp’, we were told that Easter had in fact been moved back to where it originally was (in two weeks time) and we were effectively off work for the next two weeks and were required to work remotely from home. We were told that provision would be set up for children of key workers in one of the schools in the authority and that we may be called on to supervise, but we had no further details. We then spent the remainder of the day preparing and uploading resources and tasks for students to complete at home during their extra two weeks off school. At breaktime, we all met in the staffroom for cake and coffee which, believe it or not, does not happen all that often.
I called into the supermarket on the way home for some bits and pieces. We didn’t need toilet roll, hand gel or parecetamol, but I went to their respective aisles just to stand and look at the emptiness. Whilst pondering people’s need for copious amounts of these items, I saw a man in genuine need of toilet paper who was having to resort to kitchen roll. I spent another minute wondering how things had come to this before paying and heading home.
warp-girl (my daughter) had finished school early having learnt about helping each other, washing your hands and staying safe. She also had a hefty work pack ready for next week’s home schooling! Later on, I rang my Mum who said her and Dad were watching The African Queen with Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart because the pub was closed. After reading Boris Johnson’s daily speech, in which he ordered all pubs, clubs, gyms and playgrounds to close, I thought that old films on a Friday night would be replacing my parent’s pub outings for some time to come.