For the foreseeable future, the industry of childcare and extra-curricular activities will be significantly impacted due to the Coronavirus. The way children will be able to interact with each other and their coaches will be very different – but we must adapt to these changes in the most positive way we can.

With Coronavirus being a very significant part of our lives currently, we have to discuss the impact and considerations upon our industry that will be taken into account on a daily basis. We are all considering the changes and challenges we will face when we are able to go back to schools, and how we will overcome these challenges to ensure that we can provide a safe and engaging service, as we have for so many years before.

From the 1st June, we could potentially be welcoming back children to schools and into our childcare provisions. This means we will be facing the biggest of challenges so far to ensure that we can keep children, teaching staff and coaches safe.

The most important aspect of extra-curricular activities will be to limit any physical contact and risk to participants and coaching staff. Contact sports, such as tag rugby, sharing equipment and group lunch/snack breaks will not meet the safety guidelines we must follow, and must be significantly changed to reduce any potential risks.

Sports activities with no contact, such as Yoga, Athletics etc, will be a lot easier to deliver, given the new guidelines. Whatever the activity, the session plan must be designed in a way that considers social distancing and guidelines for children to follow at all times, and also for the session to be as fun as possible for the children.

With the layout and function of the school day looking very different to what children have come to expect, the transition into the ‘new normal’ in a childcare provision should cause as little disruption as possible, and we and our coaches must find new ways to encourage children to make the most out of a bad situation.

It is also likely that the school day will be split into smaller segments to allow proper social distancing, and most likely much smaller class sizes. A good idea for schools moving forward on PE days would be for the pupils to come to school dressed in their PE kit to avoid changing on-site prior to their session where possible and therefore increasing the activity time. Between classes, equipment will have to be thoroughly cleaned ready for use by the next group which will again impact on time available for sport, another challenge that will need to be addressed by coaches.

The transition into the ‘new normal’ for children

We must all consider the impact of the lockdown on children. As adults, comprehending the current situation is difficult enough – but the support that children will need with their mental wellbeing must be an absolute priority. Experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the effects of lockdown on the wellbeing, health and futures of our children.

Losing nearly four months of education, and the variation in learning throughout different households will undoubtedly mean that the transition into the ‘new normal’ and returning to a formal learning setting will be very gradual.

From a coaching perspective it will be vital even more so than ever, that pupils see physical education as a fun release from being ‘stuck inside’ with a greater emphasis on play and enjoyment as opposed to complex activities with multiple learning focuses.

The implications of wellbeing and mental health in children are currently unknown and unprecedented. Both children and adults will have been impacted by the result of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Whether this is the loneliness or anxiety brought on by the virus, or the loss of a loved one.

For coaches returning to school’s; being that enthusiastic, positive and upbeat face is potentially going to make the world of difference to that child and allow them to if even for a brief moment improve their mood, lift their spirit and help them to deal with any stresses or anxiety’s they may have.

Together, we can find new ways to keep safe and have fun, for however long this may last. We must wait and see the changes implemented in the coaching industry and within schools, as we move beyond this crisis.

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