New normal. Altered reality. Unprecedented. All in this together. The list of pandemic clichés is undoubtedly longer than the four phrases highlighted but there can be little doubt that certain words have been overused in the last twelve weeks or so. I’m probably not reading the right newspaper columns, but I think that the word unusual might need more of an airing in the coming months. After all this isn’t the new normal because things will change. We might have to wait until there is a vaccine, but we are not going to be wearing masks when the Reception children are in Year 13 or if we are it will be a consequence of air pollution rather than COVID 19. This isn’t unprecedented, the world has experienced numerous pandemics. The Black Death wiped out a third of Europe’s population and I am reliably informed that Spanish ‘flu was a far more significant killer. I am not saying this to trivialise or to make light of what has been for some a tragic period and for many the most significant upheaval that they have experienced in a lifetime. There is no doubt that these times have been most unusual.
Closer to home it is unusual to see teachers in masks. Similarly, it is odd seeing Year 7 and Year 8 wearing facial coverings in school this week. Classrooms are still set up in rigid rows like a Victorian Schoolroom or exam hall – not normal for us here in the BSP. It is unusual to see pupils spending break between pegs or cones. Necessary but unusual. Lockdown hair is also pretty unusual. I’d never seen a teacher with a mohawk until Tuesday, but I have now. Sadly, the hair didn’t make it until Wednesday. Lurking under masks there are new beards and there are more than a few longer fringes. I’ve rarely been in school without a tie. Not many are wearing them at the moment. Unusual.
Will it be so unusual in September? Who knows? Plans are undoubtedly being drawn up as we speak, and we will learn more on 22nd June. Until then school life will be unusual. We are currently organising our traditional end of year events, they are more than likely to occur virtually but we will seek to give our Year 13s an appropriate send off. Prizes will be awarded and celebrations of a year well spent will be held but not as we normally would. If it is safe to do so we can all hope for a less unusual start to next year while being prepared for other eventualities.
Happily, some elements of school life are, to borrow from Sir Tom, not unusual. Great academic work is being done, a particular shout out to all who have done online exams this week. You are amazing. Our pupils are well behaved, thoughtful and work hard to follow the new rules in place to keep them and their peers safe. Teachers are working indefatigably to provide remote and in place learning. Parents have been both patient and supportive of what has been put in place. Whilst this may not be the way that any of us would choose to work it is not unusual to see the best being made of a most difficult situation by the BSP community.