How to create socially distant school break-times

With school gates now open, our latest blog looks at strategies for supporting socially distant school break-times and equipment that might help.

Published: September 21, 2020

As a rule, kids are social beings who enjoy the opportunity that break and lunch times provide to mix with others. In light of COVID-19, however, will break-times look the same as they once did? With schools having to avoid large groups and busy areas, this article looks at what school leaders and staff might do to create socially distant school break-times.

Guidelines for social distancing in schools

Social distancing measures in schools will be tricky to implement – no question. This is particularly true amongst younger students who don’t fully comprehend coronavirus and its ongoing impact. The Department for Education (DfE) has asked that schools implement a series of steps to support social distancing generally in schools, including:

  • Keeping kids in distinct groups, or ‘bubbles’: Splitting students into consistent groups that don’t mix with other groups minimises overall contact and enables schools to quickly identify those who may need to self-isolate in the event of someone falling ill with coronavirus.
  • Stepped-up hygiene: Schools have been asked to implement enhanced cleaning, e.g. using a school cleaning rota, and to clean frequently-used areas and equipment (such as outdoor playground installations) more often.
  • Staggered start and finish times: Students and parents should be kept apart as they arrive at and leave school to help reduce contact with others and to avoid large gatherings at school gates.

How can schools support socially distant school break-times?

So, in light of the emphasis on social distancing, what can schools do to manage break-times?

1) Get creative with games and activities

Contrary to what you might think, games aren’t out of bounds! There are a number of games that students can play in a socially-distant way. For example, charades or even rounders between two separate bubbles with players always more than two metres apart. Bishops Cannings School illustrates this below:

2) Use of shared areas

Consider how shared areas such as the school playground and staff-room are set up. The layout of communal spaces can play an important role in maintaining social distancing and keeping students in their bubbles. For example, does your school wish to ‘zone’ its play area? A playground canopy or outdoor shelter can be a great addition for your school as it will allow kids to utilise your outdoor space when it rains.

3) Staggered breaks

Staggering break, lunch times and free periods, as recommended by DfE guidance, is an effective step towards maintaining social distancing. Staggering mealtimes in the canteen will also allow time for cleaning of surfaces such as dining tables between sittings.

Along with enhanced hygiene in school washrooms and around the school via the use of equipment like mobile hand wash stations and HEPA filter hand dryers, the above measures should help schools avoid students unsafely congregating together. Whilst keeping kids apart will never be easy, with a little organisation and creative thinking school leaders should be able to manage break-times in an effective, socially-distanced way!


If your school wants equipment to support school hygiene or socially-distant school break-times, get in touch with us today!


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