It’s official: the government have told us all to stay home to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. But this is proving rather challenging for some. In light of the current crisis, we caught up with Rachael Fairclough, a teacher and mother-of-three from Sunderland, to discuss what it means to be a parent, teacher and a UK citizen during these difficult and unnerving times.
AS A PARENT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CURRENT COVID – 19 SITUATION?
As a parent, I think that both the schools and the government are doing everything they possibly can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. There was no other option than shutting the schools. We have to protect vulnerable groups, our families and our children.
ARE YOU HAPPY THE CHILDREN ARE OFF SCHOOL?
As a teacher, of course, I’m sad about it. It’s very difficult as we, and our pupils, work so hard. But it’s for the best and I’m supportive of the change. Some of my pupils were upset about not getting the chance to sit their exams, but overall, they’ve been very cooperative and understanding, given the circumstances. I’m sad that my own children won’t get to see their friends over the coming weeks, perhaps months, and that our holidays have been cancelled, but we are focussing on the positives and keeping ourselves safe. That’s the most important thing to do right now.
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S EDUCATION?
I’m not worried about my children’s education at all. I’m a teacher, which is a huge advantage in itself, but there are also tons of online resources and packs for parents and families to take advantage of, so that they can go down the home-schooling route. The school I teach at has made fantastic provisions and will be producing online work on a two-week rotation for us to look at. There’s also lots of communication via email and twitter. The schools have done – and are doing – everything they can. We’re all in this together.
HOW DO YOU PLAN ON KEEPING THE LITTLE ONES ENTERTAINED?
My children will be making the use of the online tools available to us. They have maths and English apps from school and Jo Wicks, also known as The Body Coach, is streaming live PE lessons too, so we’ll be giving those a go too.
AS A FAMILY, HOW WILL THIS IMPACT YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE?
In regards to day-to-day life, we will try and keep as normal as possible. We don’t want this to affect or worry our children, so where I can, I will stick to a routine. We will get up, get showered and dressed, eat breakfast and then go to our own version of ‘school’, in the orangery of our home. Here, the girls each have a desk each and can do the work their school has set.
HOW HAVE THE CHILDREN REACTED TO THESE UNSETTLING TIMES?
My eldest is six and is the most concerned. We have tried to be as open as we can about this virus and have stressed it is important that we all wash our hands, cough into our elbow if we have to and stay as clean as possible. My five-year-old knows something is happening, but she is still very young and so very chilled. She loves school, though, so she’s a bit sad not to be there anymore. My one-year-old is oblivious! We’ve told our eldest two that they can FaceTime their friends and some parents have set up a special ‘pen pal group’ on social media, so that the children can write letters to each other.
WHAT ADVISE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER PARENTS?
My best advice is to stay calm. I want my family to look back on this time and be proud of ourselves for how we dealt with the negatives, worries and uncertainties. I’d suggest other families mock up a time table for their day. If that’s not possible, then try and formulate some kind of day-to-day routine together, so that, eventually, things begin to feel normal. I intend on doing more cooking and baking and I’ll also be encouraging the kids to get involved with preparing their own lunch. We will, of course, have break time and PE with Jo Wicks! Children thrive when in a routine, so this is the main thing to focus on in my opinion.
A final word from Rachael…
“To all the key workers out there, I say thank you! We would be lost without you – and every one of you has something to offer. We can all get through this together if we follow the government’ advice and take all the necessary precautions. Stay safe and well, everyone.”