Saturday, 31 Oct 2020

School says it will make children eat outside all winter even when it's raining

School children have been told they will have to eat their lunch outdoors throughout the autumn and winter – even if it’s freezing cold or pouring with rain.

Lode Heath Secondary School in Birmingham said social distancing restrictions mean students would not be able to eat indoors for ‘the foreseeable future.’

While accepting the rules are ‘far from ideal’, the head teacher has said the school is prioritising ‘safety over comfort.’

Outdoor eating will take place, ‘regardless of the weather’, an email to parents made clear. 

It said: ‘Due to Government guidelines, Lode Heath School is unable to offer indoor facilities/spaces for pupils to use during break times and lunchtimes.

Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live

‘An appropriate raincoat/jacket is advised, particularly as we are now experiencing a period of inclement weather.

‘Pupils will be outside for break times and lunch times regardless of the weather, so we would appreciate parental/guardian support in ensuring pupils are suitably prepared for any periods of bad weather as we enter the autumn and winter months.’

The school is attended by 1,150 pupils, aged 11 to 16. Parents have reacted with fury with one mother saying some had been choosing to sit in the toilets to eat lunch during recent rainy days.

The mum, who has a 14-year-old daughter at the school and didn’t want to be named, said she ‘couldn’t believe her eyes’ when she received the email.

‘The majority of parents are outraged by it – I kept re-reading the email, not believing my eyes,’ she said.

‘So even if it’s freezing cold or pouring with rain, our children have got to sit outside to eat their lunch?

‘It’s a massive school with a big sports hall, dining hall and lots of classrooms. Can’t they organise a rota system so that every year group gets half an hour to sit indoors and eat their food? They sit together in class, so why not in the dining room to eat their lunch?’

The mother said there was a shelter in the grounds, but it only had one bench and was not big enough for all the children.

‘I’ve heard some children are either not eating at all, or going into the toilets and sitting in there to eat,’ she said.

‘It’s all very well saying “put on a raincoat”, but how do you balance holding an umbrella with eating your food? And because some of the lockers aren’t in use, they’ll also have to lug their bags everywhere with them too.’

After receiving complaints from parents, Lode Heath associate head teacher, Laura Suddon, sent out a second email, explaining the reasons behind the new arrangements.

She said she accepted that, while it was ‘far from ideal’, the restrictions imposed on all schools because of coronavirus meant they had to ‘make decisions we would really rather not’.

Ms Suddon said they had to find a compromise between pupils’ comfort and their safety – and they had opted for safety.

They now had two 30-minute breaks for students in the morning and afternoon, which were staggered, during which time they had to ensure pupils had access to the canteen and toilets, were kept apart and didn’t interrupt pupils who were still in lessons.

‘When taking all of this into account, along with the indoor space available, the layout of our building, plus staffing capacity issues, we have no option but to host children outside during their break times,’ she said.

‘To support students being outside we have purchased two large canopies for the playground, in addition to the large canopy we already have in the food zone. We are awaiting a fourth and are currently trying to source more although these are in short supply.

She said there was enough space for children to shelter under canopies in inclement weather. They had also bought extra outdoor tables and benches – but these were not under shelters.

The school could not use any indoor rooms because they were either being used, or did not meet social distancing rules, Ms Suddon said.

‘Despite our arrangements being far from ideal, they are, so far, proving effective as we have not yet had any confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst out student population, despite Solihull being an area of high infections as many other schools are sending students home to work remotely once more,’ she said.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Source: Read Full Article

Related Posts