Over the past few months, we have all witnessed pictures in the news and on tv documentaries of people in their hospital beds on ventilators, intubated, with some of them about to lose their lives. It’s an image that will probably never leave when we think back on this pandemic in the future. 
 
If your relative or friend died from COVID-19, our hearts go out to you for what you have been through. One of the most painful of experiences when you’re grieving is having a disturbing image of your loved one’s final hours, days, or weeks etched on your mind that you keep flashing back to. You may have seen your relative in hospital or had a video call with them from their hospital bed. Your last image may have been seeing them in the back of an ambulance with an oxygen mask on. Your mind may have made up its own image if you weren’t able to see them. 
Painful image of loved one in hospital bed
As employees start to return to work, now is a good time to start planning how your business is going to support those who have been bereaved during Lockdown. 
 
Identifying employees who have been bereaved can be ascertained by line managers during catch-up calls, or via a simple email survey. This is important, as you may not have a clear indication of those who have lost friends and family members outside of immediate family. For immediate family losses, we have guidelines for writing sympathy letters here. 
Grief in the workplace
What’s your main priority when your school opens? Get things back to ‘normal’? Safety and security of your teachers and pupils? The emotional well-being of all in your school community? Are you worried about the future and what that will hold for your staff and pupils? 
 
The re-opening of schools is certainly not an easy task for any Headteacher, and their Senior Leadership Team, to be considering in these unusual times. You are juggling the demands put forward by the Government (which seems to offer none of the reassurances school leaders want) versus the safety of your staff and students and the growing call for a well-being curriculum that allows all involved to process what has happened to them over the last few months. Now throw into the mix the negative portrayal of teachers in the press and morale of anyone returning to school being at an all-time low
Going back to the classroom after lockdown
Teachers need each other. This isn’t a time for working in isolation. Collaboration and friendship are vital in keeping teachers sane and happy, especially when everyone starts returning to work after Lockdown. You may not know what your colleagues have been through over the past few months. They may have been directly affected by COVID-19, they may have lost a close relative or friend, they may have been juggling home schooling their own children alongside their own workload and have now had to persuade their own children that it’s safe enough to go back to school. 
Going back to the classroom after lockdown
If you are planning on sending your young children back to school from 1st June, it would be a good idea to start talking to them about it now. 
 
You might be met by excitement about seeing their friends and teachers again, or your child might be worried, which could be down to the loss of their current "normal". They might be worried about forgetting the things they’d learned before, or they might be worried about their safety. Many children may have felt more at ease at home and will be scared to go back to a teacher they don't like or children who aren't kind to them. You might find they’re both excited and worried. 
Going back to the classroom after lockdown
Have you been furloughed, taken a pay cut, or lost your job as a direct result of COVID-19 and Lockdown? Are you still working but worried about the long-term impact on your income? Many people are feeling just as anxious about finances as they are about catching the virus. Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak told us not to expect a quick economic recovery and that the number claiming Unemployment Benefit soared in April. 
 
Nobody could have planned financially for this or saved up and put money aside; it was not a predictable loss. However, the loss of income or loss of financial security is causing pain and disruption
Lost job during lockdown and worried about money
As Lockdown starts to ease, you may find that everything you felt at the start of Lockdown makes a return. We know that what is coming is going to be different to what we’ve become used to. We’ve all been experiencing the loss of our lives, routines, work, family, friends, freedom and have been getting used to our ‘new normal.’ Now our ‘new normal’ is changing again. 
 
Many of us have had weeks of being at home with a sense of safety from staying within our four walls. You may well start to experience a huge fear factor of going out; fear of the unknown, fear of catching the virus, fear of others, and fear of the loss of control. Coming to terms with this is going to take some getting used to. 
Children will fall behind because of lockdown
Have you heard the words: “The children will fall so far behind…” during Lockdown? If we don’t spend a period of time focussing on Recovery when all the children return to school, they will continue to be far behind. 
 
Here’s why. Returning to school is going to cause a second loss event. Loss of their new structure, routine, safety, security, and family. And that is for the children who haven’t suffered a bereavement during Lockdown and haven’t endured any suffering.  
As the planned reopening of schools is being outlined by the Prime Minster, how are you feeling? We are hearing about lots of teachers feeling angry about the potential loss of their own safety and the safety of the children in their care. There seems to be a loss of faith in the government and the Department for Education. 
 
While many teachers have provided an essential service for Key Workers’ children and the most vulnerable, putting themselves and their families at risk since lockdown, the school environment has been carefully managed. Allowing whole classes back into school provides a host of new problems, especially given the ages of Reception and Year 1 pupils, such as ensuring social distancing, crowded lunch halls, children hugging each other, or young children falling over and needing care. How is the government going to put measures in place for these incidences and make sure your school is COVID Secure? 
While the public have had another layer of grief to deal with as they’ve been unable to say goodbye, either in person or because they’ve had a ‘no frills’ funeral, or both, professionals in the funeral industry have adapted by making the best of the situation, ensuring relatives are left feeling that they’ve done their best. We’ve heard of funeral celebrants filling spaces in crematoriums with funeral directors and streaming the service online to mourners, just to ensure there are people physically in attendance. Crematoriums have stored husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and other family members together. 
Funeral professionals totally changed the way they work
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