The return of schools and colleges that began on the 8th of March 2021 has allowed school children to receive face-to-face learning that was hindered due to the third nationwide lockdown in England. This article will explore the impact of a return to schools through two different approaches of easing sixth form students back into school and keeping them safe.

Esher Sixth Form College in Thames Ditton has approached the return of college students with a one week in one week at home approach during the remainder of the spring term and integrate all their students together in the summer term. Kai Atkins, 17, attends Esher Sixth Form College and said the ‘Going back to college after so of a long of lockdown was scary to say the least. It wasn’t a case of my college not giving me support, because they do give me much more support than I could ever ask for, but more because we were going into school after a nationwide lockdown suddenly. In a sense that I hadn’t known we were going back until a week before, maybe more than that, and while for some people that may be enough to prepare for the excitement to be going back and meeting everyone again, for me it was very anxiety inducing and stressful, while I quickly adjusted to life back in college and learnt to not fear the sudden change and not fear the face to face lessons I, for the first two weeks or so, was stressed and scared on every way. Of course for others they may have enjoyed it. But I was fearful and stressed. From mainly the quick change in environment. Moving from what was considered the safety zone within my home to on campus classrooms of which I would share with classmates of whom I had little interaction with the last few months. However now they I have had time to adjust and reconcile I can happily say that I am enjoying my time back and loving my face to face learning and am happy to continue as such without any feelings of discomfort and anxiety thanks to the lesson structure my college out in place to help the COVID spread rate (only being in college every other week).’

Waldergrave sixth form, however, returned fully, and one student aged 17, who wishes to remain anonymous, also felt stress, like kai Atkins though it was the cause of having less free time due to her commute being long as opposed to when she was at home and there was no commute. She expressed that ‘ Going back to school was dreadful, after doing all my lessons whilst sitting in my garden and having more free time to do what I wanted.’

Two pupils from different schools who took different approaches to reopening share the same sentiments of fear and dread upon returning to a busier work environment and social setting and this raises the question of how to improve the situation of the students who are set to take exams next years and have been educated over a laptop screen for the first year of their A-levels.