As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to shape our lives, what will September’s Back to Nursery School look like for your child?

Here are five things you – and they – may see.

Earlier this month (July) the government published its official advice for all nurseries and schools as it ordered them to prepare for a full opening this autumn. The advice set out its System of Controls, nine measures which nurseries and schools had to consider when re-opening.

The government says that at all times schools must:

1. Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school

2. Clean people’s hands thoroughly more often than usual

3. Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach

4. Introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents and bleach

However, the government left schools and nurseries themselves to decide how to best implement this in their environments.

Given that some nurseries operate out of buildings dating back to the Victorian era – and plenty date back to the middle of the last century – this means that establishments will have to organise some very individual ways of making it work for them.

So, what might your child be seeing or experiencing, come September 2?

1. Signs, stickers and hazard warning tape

On the floor, on the walls and on the doors – everywhere, in fact, where children need to be reminded to wait in a certain place, sit or stand the regulation distance apart, or need reminding to wash their hands. It’s probably going to be the most visible reminder that things have really changed.

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2. Perspex Screens

Known in the trade as ‘infection protection’ or ‘sneeze screens’, these see-through panels have already appeared in the checkout areas at most of the UK’s supermarkets. According to one UK school equipment supplier, screens are particularly popular in high-traffic reception areas, as are mobile screens. The company reports that older children in Wuhan, China, were required to carry folding mobile screens with them to lunch breaks, to maintain safety.

3. Hand washing facilities

Remember back to the first anti-coronavirus message we ever heard? It was ‘wash your hands’. Well, that still applies, and the government’s System of Controls reminds staff and children to: ‘Clean your hands more thoroughly than usual’.

In nursery this will mean lots of additional soap and sanitiser, but children may also start to see the emergence of ‘washing stations’, essentially troughs with warm water and soap for them to wash their hands in before entering the building. Hartford Manor Primary School in Cheshire has installed 37 of these washing stations.

4. New layouts and one-way systems

Mums and Dads dropping off and collecting their little ones will probably become part of a one-way queue and moving around the buildings will change dramatically, as staff try and minimise bottlenecks.

You may find that you have to enter the school premises one family group at a time too, to keep social distancing.

Classrooms will look different, with desks further apart and ‘bubbles’ of children created to keep everyone safe.

5. Human temperature screening camera

These non-invasive devices are already being used in schools in America to screen pupils for raised temperatures and they may start to become more popular here.

Whilst the equipment can’t detect coronavirus or, indeed, any particular disease, they do show incidences of raised temperature which can be a sign of illness, including Covid-19.

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Using automatic face detection, the simple camera-and-laptop system analyses the skin temperature of people’s faces, before taking a reading accurate to within 0.5C, then calculating core body temperature within two seconds.

British company Ametek LAND devised the VIRALERT system after its Director of Innovation and Technology, Dr Peter Drogmoller, was forced to self-isolate after flying on a plane with someone who had the SARS respiratory virus.

The system has evolved significantly to meet our changing world. A new system (VIRALERT 3), is already in use at the Henry Fanshawe School at Dronfield, a town near to Sheffield, where the VIRALERT 3 is made.