When Schools Reopen…

Rainbow School Gym

When lockdown begins to lift,
And school doors open more widely
To re-embrace students and staff,

May we be brave enough
To turn our backs on the sprint
After lost academic progress,
And choose instead
A time of healing and restoration.

May we take the time to acknowledge
The sudden fracture in our way of life,
Shared fear, collective grief,
Friends and family members lost,
Those missing from our communities.

May we recognise that, for some,
School was the safety and the sanctuary
That home could never be,
That as we move to lock threat out,
Some have it locked in beside them.

May we recognise that, for others,
School was a daily, hourly struggle,
And home their safe port in the storm;
And they fear setting sail from their refuge
Into the battering onslaught of wind and wave.

May we recognise that, for some,
School didn’t close, but changed,
Anchoring those whose loved ones
Daily held the front line to face the threat
From which the rest of the world was hiding.

May we recognise that, for others,
Returning to routines that are familiar
Yet unfamiliar, the unsettling uncertainty
Of socially distanced classrooms will spark
A survival response to an ever-present threat.

May we recognise those teachers and staff
Who, faced with a nation staying at home,
Took themselves out to care
For the children who needed them most,
Resisting the instinct to protect their own first.

May we recognise those educators
Who stepped up to keep on educating,
Rapid adaptation into virtual teachers,
Creatively keeping contact
And serving school dinners to those in need.

May we recognise that mass home learning
Cannot produce uniform mass results,
That the progress made by our children
Will be valuable and varied and visible
In ways the system will not measure.

May we recognise that each of these –
Each child
Each young person
Each teacher and staff member –
Come from families who may have struggled
In a myriad of ways.

Let us recognise all of this and more,
And let us respond
With a time of healing and restoration.

Let us, for once,
Abandon our British stiff upper lip,
Name and identify our confused emotions
With scientific precision,
So they can be processed and safely stored.

Let us hold on to valuing connection
And the sense of community we have built.

Let us remember how the arts and music,
Play and collective creativity
Fed our souls and tied us together,
And let us weave them into a flexible foundation
For the future of our schools.

Let us step away
From reigning through rules,
Choosing instead
To regulate through relationship.

May we salute and applaud
The courage of teachers and headteachers,
Teaching assistants and support staff,
Who will take this opportunity
To build a Brave New World.

Let us listen to the experts
In mental health and wellbeing,
Neuroscience and child development,
And learn from them how to be
A nation that nurtures our children.

When lockdown begins to lift,
And school doors open more widely,
May we be brave enough to choose
A time of healing and restoration.


© Julie Wilkinson 2020


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