Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing, while the risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is very low.
In numbers, 2 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded across England and Wales out of 10.7 million under 15s, so that’s a chance of 1 in 5.3 million; that means COVID-19 is 7 times less risky for children than was the 2017-18 seasonal flu.
In the meantime, there are so many negative health impacts of being out of school. So, for the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from COVID-19.
In the new guidelines produced by the government last week, they stated that “schools should consider resuming any breakfast and after-school provision, where possible, from the start of the autumn term.” As schools review this, they will likely find it’s actually straight forward to do this by following a few simple steps.
Here are 7 ideas of how to run the best COVID safe clubs.
- Renew your risk assessment
As always, a risk assessment will need to be carried out in line with the HSE guidance, identifying protective measures (such as those listed in the guidance on Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)). For external club providers, that responsibility falls to them.
Not much has changed from the usual risk assessment but it is worth refreshing it in line with the new COVID guidelines.
- Consider group sizes
When thinking about how many children can attend a club, all of the usual considerations apply. What age are the children? What is the size of the space? What range of motion does the club require?
Government advice suggests keeping small, consistent groups with no more than 15 children per club leader. This is very similar to the number of children that would usually attend a club. For some activities such as gymnastics where more space is required, it might be worth reducing this a little more. Clubs are also usually split by age range which should help to limit the mixing of bubbles J.
- Do the club outside
Children LOVE being outside and there are many health benefits from being outside. The risk of transmission is also considerably lower outdoors and lack of space is much less of an issue. Why not try marking out areas so lots of groups can be outside at once? You could even name the areas to make it fun and exciting for the children.
I know what you’re thinking…what about the weather?! But how many times does it actually rain or snow so much that you can’t be outside? Think back to the past 4 weeks of going to work – how often did you actually get wet? I imagine the answer is less than you first thought. Simply check the weather the day before and if for any reason there is a bout of freak weather and the club needs to be cancelled, you can let the parents know in advance.
- Keep equipment clean
Consider what equipment you need to run the club (if any!) and how you can keep it clean or limit the amount of times it is touched. Chances are, it’s the same equipment that is already been used throughout the school day and for other clubs so there will likely be measures already in place to keep it clean.
- Digitise bookings and registers to reduce social contact
Who knew about Zoom before the pandemic? We’ve all discovered there’s a digital solution for just about everything these days; running school clubs is no exception. More digital means less social contact, so have a look.
Some cloud services are FREE (take a look at Clubbly), and support bookings, payments, registers and attendance online using a phone or tablet. (And save loads of time!)
- Limit contact with parents after the club
It’s likely that you’ll already have a pick-up process in place for the end of the school day so just make sure you make the coach/club leader aware of this so they can practice the same procedure.
- Manage external contact
As stated in the government guidelines, schools are able to work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for curricular and extra-curricular activities where they are satisfied that this is safe to do so. If it’s safe to do a PE lesson or curriculum activity, it’s likely that a school club will also be safe. In most cases, it will be the coach/club leader who is responsible for ensuring the safety of the children but it would be a good idea to ask any external coach/club leader to self-certify before running a club.
Running clubs in this new environment is probably not much different than before. It’s also really important to remember the huge benefits that clubs have for children, particularly now, when they have been off school for so long.
Engaging in physical activity and sport has a number of real-world benefits for children:
- Recent research has shown regular aerobic exercise improves memory and learning.
- Playing sports promotes teamwork and social skills
- Regular exercise has been shown to improve behaviour in the classroom.
- Exercising during the day helps children to sleep well at night. Sleep is essential for learning and memory.
- 60% of parents agree that attending a club has boosted their child’s confidence.
Engaging in non-active hobbies is also good for the development of a child. Clubs like cooking, art and craft offer kids a variety of benefits.
- Learning any type of new skill is good for a child’s self esteem
- Creative clubs can help kids to express themselves
- Working in a group with others is good for social skills
- Non-active hobbies can also promote teamwork and learning
Change can be overwhelming but it is also a brilliant opportunity to try new things and do things differently. After all, it is often said that the most dangerous phrase is “we’ve always done it this way”.
If you want to get the kids at your school back involved in inspiring and fun extra-curricular activities, take a look round our site today or get in touch with a member of our team on 01223 792211.