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From our Muslim chaplain

So the new announcement about schools going back comes as great news to us, and I am sure teachers are getting fed up of not being able to get out of their houses and into their classrooms. I know I was chomping at the bit, to get back into our University Faith Spaces, and welcome you all back into the Sanctuaries we hold here. I’ve missed the fresh air, but haven’t missed the rush hour traffic. I’ve missed the interactions with people, but not missed the hustle and bustle of busy lunch queues. I really do hope we can find a balance, to ensure that our mental health and wellbeing isn’t taking a hit.

As new announcements take hold from the UK Government about the state of Lockdown my wife and I both sighed a breath of relief knowing that our eldest will be going back into school soon. Not that we weren’t enjoying her company at home but more for her own mental health and wellbeing. Honestly, she hasn’t been outside for quite a few days now, and I am starting to worry whether this will become her norm. Today I wanted to take the opportunity to just acknowledge that the adults among us may take these changes and world events within our stride, having been through far worse, and not even having access to the Internet for a large part of our lives. We were able to occupy ourselves with board games and card games. I was happy with a doodling book or even just a cardboard box! But for our younger generations is there more to worry about?

Are our children being damaged by the current state of affairs or are they going to become more resilient because the world is changing at such a fast rate that they have no choice but to keep up? And how should they be supported to ‘keep up’, or should they instead be taught that they don’t need to try and keep up, instead learn to pick and choose, what they want to keep up with? I’ve been talking to my daughter about how she is find home-schooling and whether she misses school. I was surprised to learn that, with the current arrangements- she preferred to learn at home because in school, they do all their classes online. They just have one teacher in the classroom – who doesn’t even do any teaching and just sits there tapping away on their phone! So even they they have gone into school, their classes and learning is still online. In the same room are other pupils, not necessarily from the same year group- but sitting 2 meters apart, and with masks on.

At least at home, she said- there is no need to keep wearing a mask- and we can easily get things to eat from the kitchen without having to wait for opening times, and not having to queue up at the canteen. I had never thought of these things, and just considered the teaching and the social side of school. I know it has been a loooong time since I was last in school, but how much had it change? Going back to the question of how these lockdowns might be affecting our children, according to the Children’s Commissioner a survey of 2000 children found there was an overall decrease in the level of stress they felt over a period of four months, with the exception of ‘some days’.

It is only only 2000 responses but it’s still positive. I am going to recommend this evening and that we play a board game together. Only problem is I’m not sure if I can find the box it was packed away in. We still haven’t had a moving date confirmed yet, so another weekend of packing cardboard boxes and ‘un-flatpacking’ furniture for me!

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