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Abbeygate Sixth Form College student Millie Barton on a lockdown dilemma

After a second national lockdown was announced on October 31, many were left confused as to how the new measures were going to work and whether or not they would be successful in reducing the growing number of Covid-19 cases across the country.

One of the most notable of the Government’s actions was to keep schools, colleges and universities open in order to limit the impact of the lockdown on education.

This became a priority after the events of the first lockdown; students all across the UK were left devastated when they opened up their results and received grades far below their predicted exam results.

Students are doing their best
Students are doing their best

This was especially difficult for those who worked hard throughout their time at school. Whilse having to handle the strain of the lockdown itself as well as the pressure of studying at home, the mismanagement of exam results was very stressful and, for many students, had an impact on their mental health.

For those students who came from less privileged backgrounds, studying presented an even greater challenge: many didn’t have access to laptops or suitable working spaces at home.

As a result of the Government’s decision to continue face-to-face learning, educational institutions, including Abbeygate Sixth Form College, have worked hard to ensure all students and teachers are helping to protect one another. This includes wearing face coverings at all times, sticking to the one-way system that has been put in place, disinfecting desks after every use and making use of the hand sanitising stations that are installed throughout the building.

While Abbeygate students are sticking rigidly to the Government guidelines, it is not possible to maintain social distancing at all times around hundreds of students. So, students can be in close contact with hundreds of students in a school day, but as soon as they leave the building, they can only be with one other person? These restrictions are not only confusing, but also make it very difficult for students who are trying to comply with government guidelines while also being encouraged to attend schools as much as possible.

However, as we are being told by the Government that we will be safe within a ‘bubble’ of students and staff members, all we can do is continue to follow the guidelines. We will do what we must in order to keep those around us safe during this confusing time.

Some schools have heard of members of the local community expressing concern surrounding the groups of students that have been seen walking around the town when going to the local supermarkets at lunch for instance.

Understandably, locals are concerned to see groups of young people together when the guidelines clearly state that individuals can only meet with one other person. However, at social times like lunch time and breaks, it is only natural that large numbers of students will be leaving the building and therefore many are not able to avoid being around more than one other person. Not only this, but many students are struggling to see why they cannot walk to their home or local shop with a couple of friends after being around 20 to 25 other students in a classroom all day.

Everybody must play their part in working together as a community to comply with the guidelines that are there to protect us and the NHS who are working harder than ever in these difficult times.

However, the current measures have led to a lot of confusion surrounding what students can and cannot do.

The majority of students are not acting carelessly against the government-imposed guidelines, but are instead trying to balance education while maintaining the safety of themselves and others.

Millie Barton studies A-levels in English Literature, History and Psychology.

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