To send back or not to send back? That is the question for many parents ahead of schools reopening next Monday for certain year groups.

This week, during half term, instead of preparing lessons many teachers are drawing up plans to keep pupils as safe as possible. That includes arrows on floors and individual pods for children to play in.

Desks are kept two metres apart

It means when children arrive at Charlotte Sharman Primary School in South London on Monday they will be given a new set of rules.

We've had to think about every aspect of school life - how pupils enter the gate, how they line up in the playground in the morning, what stairs they're going to use, what direction they're going to go up and down. I'm worried we are going to be at capacity very soon - that we're not going to have enough staff to cater for the children or that we have or the room to do it. I fear we will run out of soap. I fear we will run out of pencils that they can safely touch.

Andrew May, Headteacher
Arrow on the floor in a corridor showing a new one way system

Just eleven of the school's 350 pupils have been coming in during lockdown. On Monday the school will reopen but only to Year 6 pupils.

We want to make sure the transition to Year 7 is as smooth as possible and we also think they will be the most resilient to the changes.

Andrew May, Headteacher

Around a quarter of Year 6 pupils are expected to turn up next week. They will be separated into smaller pods and they won't be allowed to mix with anyone outside that group.

  • The children will sit two metres apart at individual work stations

  • They will each get their own set of individual stationery

  • The stationery will be disinfected every night and they won't be able to share it with anyone

But it's once children get outside the classroom that the real challenge begins. Moving around will mean children navigating one way systems and trying to socially distance in corridors and on stairs.

I worry about my own [safety]. I can't go and see my own family but I can come to work and work with other people and work with children.

Lisa O'Neill, teaching assistant

On Wednesday Boris Johnson was asked if he thought it was safe to open schools.

We do believe it's safe provided everybody remembers the guidelines that we've set out and everybody understands the crucial things you've got to do. Particularly maintaining social distance and washing your hands.

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister

It's a message children need to get and understand and Monday will be the first test of whether schools and social distancing can mix.

Lucrezia Millarini spoke to Director of Netmums Anne-Marie O'Leary and former Chief Inspector of Schools in England Sir Michael Wilshaw who spoke about the challenges of safely reopening schools.