Stepping up to prepare for a return to the 'new normal'

June O'Sullivan
Monday, May 4, 2020

The Covid -19 pandemic has introduced us to some new words such as furlough and serology which describe specific action.

But alongside those real words we have also been introduced to horrible banalities such as “unprecedented times”, “strange times” and the “new normal”. I vowed I would avoid all these words if possible but here I am putting one of them into a blog title.

That is because we must figure out what will work for us by balancing keeping safe and providing a service. It seems that social distancing and washing hands remain the consistent protective factors. There is a move towards compulsory wearing of masks in shops, public transport and in other crowded spaces. I am all for wearing masks in public whether made from a scarf, an old sock as per GoggleBox or a cut down tee-shirt. We managed to get a donation of masks from colleagues at The Social Business Trust, but I am sure we can persuade our crafting colleagues to use quilting skills to make fancy masks.

Or maybe there will be a return to 16th century Venetian and French designed masks to protect those treating plague victims. They were white with a hollow beak stuffed with medicinal herbs and round eye holes covered with crystal discs. I also hope that we will introduce the “spitting police” and it may see the end of that disgusting habit.

The move to try and get the economy working again is beginning. New Zealand has started to open for businesses, although its borders remain closed. Italy has agreed to open some shops and restaurants. Spain is allowing people out of their homes to go for a walk. Norway has opened its nurseries as has Belgium and Hong Kong. Boris is back and hopefully taking the reins. Although, I wish people would ask him what to do about opening nurseries rather than coming to me!

I will try to answer the many questions I am receiving, with some simple messages. Let’s start with what we have been doing while we have been open since this pandemic began and what needs to stay as essential in GREEN and new ideas in PURPLE.

I know I called the blog the “new normal”, but I think we may continue to face these situations again. If not a virus, an economic melt-down or another unplanned crisis. Record what worked well and ensure it’s on the Covid-19 risk assessment so that it can be adapted. Let’s learn from this situation and understand what immediate actions saved us.

June O'Sullivan is chief executive of London Early Years Foundation. This blog first appeared on the LEYF website

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