By Jess Webb

Greetings Fellow Newtonian’s.

So I have been interviewing and thanking key workers over the last couple of months for their commitment and hard work, and thought I now should look to some of our younger generation, to gain what understanding of the Coronavirus they have, and what they have been doing over the lockdown period.

I am aware there has been a lot of controversy around children either attending or not attending school. But I wanted to focus on, and make people aware of, the positive experience that some of the children in our local community have had attending their school during lockdown, and what they have been up to at home during this unprecedented period.

I had been told about sisters Summer and Quinn, who have been attending one of the local schools within Newton Aycliffe throughout the lockdown period. I gained permission from their mother Becki Pedelty, who is a key worker from one of our local hospitals, to ask Summer and Quinn the following questions:

To set the scene, Summer and Quinn were asked their ages, why they were still attending school and what they understood about the Coronavirus.

Quinn said she was 5 years old and in Reception class at school, she said she understood Coronavirus is very dangerous and that everyone must wash their hands a lot to prevent it spreading. Quinn said she needed to go to school, as her mum works in a hospital, and helps people get better. Summer said she was 9 nearly 10 and in year 5, and she said that Coronavirus is a virus that makes it hard for you to breathe, it’s spread by coughing. Summer also said that everyone must stay 2 metres apart from each other, and wash their hands regularly, and use hand gels to help keep safe. Summer said she had continued to attend school as her mum is a keyworker and her dad also needed to keep going to work too. I think you will all agree they both have a good understanding of the seriousness of Coronavirus and what they need to do to keep safe, despite the age they are, well done Summer and Quinn!

I must add they both said they were very proud of their mam, and the work she was doing in the hospital. But I feel it’s important to say Summer did say she was scared at first that her mam would catch the virus at work, so it highlights how key workers children have been feeling during this period and how brave they have also been when worrying about their parents.

I asked if they were both enjoying going to school. Quinn said she didn’t at first because her friends weren’t there, and she was upset that she had missed a school trip, but it helped that her sister was with her at school. Both Quinn and Summer agreed that they missed their friends not being at school, and looked forward to them returning. But Summer did go on to say that school was better than it normally was, and despite not many people attending the school, at least one or two of her friends have been at school with her so it had been ok, but she did say she missed her best friend.

I asked what fun activities Summer and Quinn had been doing at school, and if they still had any of their usual lessons, break time and school dinners. Quinn said they played outside, and played lots of fun games, like jump start Johnny and Joe Wicks to keep fit. Summer mentioned that they were doing lots of arts and crafts activities, with her favourite being making a sock monkey. Summer said that she didn’t like Joe Wicks as much as Quinn, but that she loved just to dance. They also said they were loving doing lots of gardening and growing things. I asked if they were doing lessons like Maths, English and Science, and Quinn wasn’t sure, but Summer said yes, but they were much more fun. I asked if Quinn and Summer had missed having school dinners. Quinn said she was happy because she had got to go on packed lunch, and Summer said she had always been on packed lunch.

I think a very important question most people will want to know is, if Summer and Quinn felt safe attending school, and what had the school done or been asking them to do, in order to keep them and other children safe. They both said they felt safe at school, and that they both had their own desk now, and that the classes changed depending on how many children were at school that day. They said washing their hands all the time, spending lots of time playing outside, and trying to keep 2 metres apart from other people. Summer said the school had arranged a new way in and out of the school too, to stop them bumping into each other. When asked if it was easy to follow the rules the school had put in place; Summer said it was as they had been following the rules for a while now and that teachers were there to remind them, and Quinn said when she’s playing she sometimes forgets, but she always washes her hands.

With all the pressure on schools during this time, it really sounds like Summer and Quinn’s school, and the teachers, have been doing a fantastic job keeping the children safe, as well as making it really fun to attend. So I think you will all want to agree the school deserves a round of applause.

I asked Summer and Quinn what they had being doing at home for fun during lockdown. They both said they had been doing a lot outside including being out on their bikes, taking their dog for walks and playing in the garden. They also said they had been enjoying playing on the computer and playing games with their mam and dad. It sounds like they have been having a great time despite this situation. They also said they had been keeping in contact with family and friends through FaceTime, Summer said she had a phone so had a chat group with some of her friends, and Quinn had written a letter to her friend Daisy.

This interview has made me think, and understand, how this situation can affect our younger generation, and the worries they may have had about their key worker parents still attending work. But also with good planning from schools, family support, virtual communication methods with family and friends, together with the resilience of our brave children, I am hopeful that the younger generation can overcome this Covid 19 period.

Well done to Summer and Quinn’s school and their mother being a Key Worker, most of all.