I know that we might not yet be fully out of the woods with regard to reflecting on how Covid has got in the way of any number of things during the last two years. But there was last week, for me at least, something of a fairly large step forward.
For the first time since November 2019, I was part of a multi-day excursion together with a group of ninety twelve and thirteen year olds, and five colleagues.
Four days eating, playing, learning and relaxing together…..plus of course getting the pupils to bed and asleep in their 4-6 person bedrooms at the end of the day (always one of the most challenging parts of this sort of week). Virtually all Covid restrictions have just been removed here in the Netherlands, so there was no one and half metre rule, no face masks and full buses to transport us. Judging by the weeks immediately previous at school I had fully expected a small but significant number of cases to occur, but thankfully that was an absolute minimum. One case during the visit and a couple in the days thereafter.
All in all the days away felt surprisingly normal, at least to the teachers involved. We had all made similar trips before. To many of the pupils it was all a bit of a new experience, with these sorts of extra-curricular activities being so scarce during the last two years.
Normally we would head off abroad, but this Spring that was still just a step too complicated and risky in terms of planning and potential problems. So, it was all nearer to home. Easier to arrange, but sadly without the international dimension and the language challenges that come along with it.
We hope to take a similar group off to England in the autumn, we’ll have to wait and see what surprises the pandemic may serve up then. We will also be facing up to the full-blown version of Brexit, with all the restrictions and complications for EU travellers for the first time. But that is a completely different story and one that I wrote my irritations and frustrations about a couple of months ago.