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There’s never been a new school year quite like it.

For many children, the autumn term is about to begin after months of disruption and time at home. They will return to classrooms rather different to the ones they left.

As well as planning trigonometry and photosynthesis lessons, schools now have to think about bubbles, how to allow social distancing, and which pupils can use which toilets.

Schools have drawn up their own plans. But here’s a look at what a day in school could now look like.

Getting ready

Wed Aug 26, 2020. Table gaps are measured in a class room, as preparations are made for the new school term at Alderwood School in Aldershot, Hampshire.Image copyright
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The government wants all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term and schools across the UK have been planning for the new term for months. At Alderwoods School, in Aldershot, Hampshire, the distance between tables in a classroom has been measured.

Social distancing tape is placed on a one way sign in a corridor, as preparations are made for the new school term at Alderwood School in Aldershot, Hampshire 26 August 2020Image copyright
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Social distancing measures have also been prioritised, meaning the school’s corridors have been made one-way – with signs showing which direction pupils should walk in.

Site manager Mark Lee fills bottles of hand sanitizer at QueenImage copyright
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Cleanliness has been made a priority. At Queen’s Hill Primary School, in Costessey, near Norwich, the school’s site manager fills bottles of sanitiser to help keep surfaces clean.

Heading to school

15/6/2020 of a school pupil wearing a face mask. Pupils wearing masks is an option that should be kept under review, a union has said, despite the Education Secretary insisting the measure is not needed as schools in England prepare to reopen.Image copyright
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The issue of face masks in secondary schools differs from nation to nation. Secondary school pupils in local lockdown areas in England will have to wear them in school corridors.

Students at St ColumbaImage copyright
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While in Scotland, they already have to wear them in corridors and communal areas. Northern Ireland recommends wearing them in corridors, and in Wales the decision is being left to head teachers.

Chris Donnelly, principal of St John The Baptist Primary School in West Belfast uses sanitiser on pupils' hands, as schools in Northern Ireland reopen to pupils following the coronavirus lockdown on 24 August 2020Image copyright
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At St John the Baptist Primary School in West Belfast, principal Chris Donnelly – wearing a face shield – reminded pupils to use hand sanitiser as they entered the building.

Pupils on their first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School, in London, queued outside with their parents at drop off time.Image copyright
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And pupils on their first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School, in London, queued outside school with their parents at drop-off time.

In the classroom

A view shows desks in a classroom prepared by Westlands Primary School's staff for the new school year, as pupils return to school tomorrowImage copyright
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Many year groups will be in bubbles, and some years will be spending more time in a single classroom, with teachers moving around for lessons. At Westlands Primary School, pupils are given their own work and stationery sets.

Pupils on their first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School, in LondonImage copyright
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Pupils are all supposed to face forwards to help stop the spread of infection. Pupils on their first day back to school at Charles Dickens Primary School sat on desks spaced out in the classroom.

Drama teacher Geoff Nolan gives a socially distanced class to pupils at Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow for the first time following the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures on August 12, 2020Image copyright
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Drama teacher Geoff Nolan gave a socially-distanced class to pupils at Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow – being careful not to step over floor markings.

Pupils from years 7 and 11 return to Manor High School in Oadby, Leicestershire, currently the school has adopted a voluntary policy with regards to students wearing face coverings.Image copyright
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At Manor High School in Oadby, Leicestershire, a voluntary policy is in place when it comes to students wearing face coverings. The area came out of a local lockdown last month.

May 18, 2020 - Children abide by a traffic light system for social distancing when washing their hands at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester. Nursery and primary pupils could return to classes from June 1 following the announcement of plans for a phased reopening of schools.Image copyright
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A traffic light system was put in place for hand-washing at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester, with green for go, amber meaning it’s nearly your turn, and red for stop. (This picture was taken in May, when the school was open for the children of key workers.)

Lunch break

Breaks and lunch times will mostly be staggered so that class bubbles don’t overlap.

Lunch spaces for different classes separated and spaced as The Charles Dickens Primary SchoolImage copyright
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At the Charles Dickens Primary School, separate areas have been sectioned off for different classes, so the groups don’t mix.

May 18 2020. Children of essential workers eat lunch in segregated positions at Kempsey Primary School in Worcester. Nursery and primary pupils could return to classes from June 1 following the announcement of plans for a phased reopening of schools.Image copyright
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In Kempsey Primary School, pupils have been sitting apart at lunch, with places carefully marked out so no-one sits directly next to or opposite each other.

Dinner staff wearing PPE dispense a hot lunch to pupils at St John the Baptist Primary School, in west BelfastImage copyright
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And at St John the Baptist Primary School, in west Belfast, dinner staff wore personal protective equipment to dispense hot lunches to pupils.

Home time

School times have been staggered in many places, to allow children to leave at different times. And the playground has been segregated for dropping off and pick-up times so parents don’t congregate together.

Some schools are changing their entrances and exits, with one way in, and another way out, to keep people apart.

Children dance on a measured and painted socially distanced circle in the playground as they wait to be picked up by their parents at Llanishen Fach Primary School in CardiffImage copyright
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At Llanishen Fach Primary School, in Cardiff, children dance on a measured and painted socially distanced circle in the playground as they wait to be picked up by their parents.

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