Family & Education

Coronavirus: Exam results day rituals put on hold

Students react after collecting their A-level exam results at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Results day razzmatazz is likely to be muted this year

By any measure, this summer's results days are some of the weirdest ever. So how will the need for social distancing and extra hygiene impact some of the most emotionally charged days of the school calendar?

"You laugh, you cry, you celebrate with your friends," one teenager told the BBC.

But this year much of that is probably out.

Envelope drama

It's the big moment. You queue, you're handed your envelope. You open it...

This year the big decision for schools has been whether to invite students in to pick up their results at all.

Many students are being asked to look out for an email or log in to the school portal at 08:00 - and to avoid their school or college.

But, equally, many schools are inviting students in.

"It will be more important than ever this year to be able to congratulate students on their achievements, to console those who haven't achieved their results they were hoping for and advise them on the next steps," says the Association of School and College Leaders.

If schools and colleges do invite pupils in, they're advised to minimise contact and mixing, keep them in small groups and observe social distancing.

And that is likely to mean....

No hugging

Under social distancing hugging is out, unless you are living with the person you plan to hug.

Elbow or foot bumps might be better, if less satisfying in the moment.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hugging will probably have to be restricted to people in the same household

Jumping etiquette

Jumping in the air and waving your results sheet is only really acceptable if you go to one of those schools with acres of pitches on which to socially distance your celebrations.

Bear in mind that if you jump too much you are likely to exert yourself and risk breathing any germs you might be carrying over anyone standing too close - so keep your distance.

And if you're receiving results by email at home, jumping would inevitably be less spontaneous.

You'd have to print out your own results sheet and then hunt down some classmates also willing to jump in a socially distanced manner.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Look before you leap - jumping could be bad manners

Crying alone

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone. This year some schools are only inviting in students who need to discuss their grades, so any crying will perhaps happen more privately than normal.

Many students who have missed their grades will appreciate the extra privacy, but others will miss being buoyed up by hugs and sympathy from friends.

At any rate, if you do cry, it's pretty important not to dribble on anyone from outside your household.

Socially distanced selfies

Regular results day selfies of you and your friends standing in a row, expressing joy and amazement, are probably out this year.

Maybe this is the day to dust off the selfie stick for some high angled, socially distanced shots of you and your mates with your results sheets.

Alternatively you could just scrap the selfie idea and just ask someone else to take the photo, but maybe you should also think about antimicrobial wipes for your phone and a plentiful supply of hand sanitiser.

New rules for (helicopter) parents

Some parents like to gather at the school gates on results day, waiting for their offspring to reveal their grades.

But this year the government is asking schools that do decide to open to "continue to make it clear to parents that they cannot gather at entrance gates or doors or enter the site unless they have a pre-arranged appointment".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Results parties will have to be socially distanced this year

The after party

"After GCSEs, we were in the school, laughing and crying and then we all went out as friends together, we all had a party at someone's house. It was nice I liked that experience."

But two years on, for this student, now 18, the virus means parties will have to be a bit more circumspect, particularly in areas where local lockdowns are in force.

More on this story