Preschoolers struggle with social distancing

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 05 May 2020, 12:00PM

If you’ve ever tried social distancing for a school with pupils aged between two and four-year-olds, then you’ll have already learned that it is next to impossible.

That’s what the Samoa Observer learned when it visited Gabriel’s Pre-School in Alamagoto on Monday, the first day back to school for the nation’s children after five weeks of lockdown at home, due to the national state of emergency (S.O.E.) declaration.

“We feel happy to be back in school because we have been out of school for a long time,” said school Principal, Matile Gabriel.

Although Mrs. Gabriel’s Pre-School planned to open next week they had no choice to go into session because parents dropped their children off.

 “We weren’t planning on having school today but the children came. They are probably tired of staying in the house,” she said.

It’s fortunate for Gabriel, not all of her 186 students showed up.

Dressed in red and white gingham printed uniforms, the toddlers who did turn up for school darted in and out of the schoolhouse, others zoomed from the buildings to the swings and back into the building, laughing, shouting and squealing in delight.

A few mothers sat outside the building helping teachers to keep watch on the youngsters.

A small canteen was in operation selling apples and oranges and other snacks.

Gabriel said they tried their best to social distance but the children could not be contained, not with just six of eight teachers at work.

“They say social distance this and social distance that but look,” she said, motioning toward the energetic children.

“We are okay. Look at them! They are really happy today coming back to school again!”

Preschoolers at Mrs. Gabriel’s come from all around Upolu like villages as far as Lefaga, Aleipata and Fasitoo.

“They live far [from town] so it’s not like we could have told they have to go back [home],” Gabriel said.

“The children are safe because we have not been affected by the coronavirus. The coronavirus has not yet reached Samoa.”

If the little ones broke social distancing rules, it was plain to see that it was done innocently.

By Tina Mata'afa-Tufele 05 May 2020, 12:00PM

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