The development of the Coronavirus as it arrived in Europe was followed carefully by all of us here at Bethany. At first this led to the testing of the pupils who had been part of the two trips to Italy during February half term. We also experienced concern from our boarders for their families in Spain, China and Hong Kong. Because of this, the pupils at Bethany were possibly more aware than many other children in the UK of the impact of this virus, especially in the early stages.
Throughout the time in which we moved towards school closures, and certainly since, I have been struck by the calmness shown by our pupils and their ability to remain positive.
When I asked pupils for a theme for a Pengelly House assembly, the request came back clear and simple – look for the positives that have come from the lockdown measures. At the end of the assembly, I challenged the pupils to identify those positives which they would not like to go away after lockdown was eased and to work out how they could keep hold of them as we return to a ‘new normal’.
Pupils reported feeling closer to their family, having time to be in touch (albeit from a distance) with their wider family unit, greater community spirit in their street or area, more acts of kindness being given and received, appreciating the local wildlife, time for creative hobbies, improved air quality and many other examples were proffered.
I asked the pupils for examples of these positives and received so many great responses, such as a tutor group that planned a week in which they all had to do a daily act of kindness for someone else. Those included walking the old people next door’s dog, publishing a book on Amazon, learning a new instrument, learning to cook, collecting litter around the area and so many more opportunities that our pupils have taken to enhance themselves or support others.
As the measures of lockdown are eased, we all may be in danger of losing sight of some of these positives and it will be a challenge, not just to the pupils but to all of us, to work on how we can hold onto those parts of this terrible pandemic that have the potential to enhance our lives going forward.