Saturday, 31 October 2020

Schools ready and safe for return of children next week

Schools ready and safe for return of children next week

CHILDREN will return to school next week with safety measures in place to offset the threat of the coronavirus.

Pupils can expect staggered playtimes, year group bubbles and increased cleaning procedures but they will not have to wear masks.

Gillotts School in Henley has provided parents with a handbook explaining all its covid-19 measures.

These include a new one-way system, different break times and a request that students and staff observe cleaning procedures, such as frequent handwashing.

Headteacher Catharine Darnton said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming students back.

“We know how much of an impact school closure has had on both their education and their wellbeing.

“While no situation can be risk-free, everyone agrees that, on balance, children need to be in school.

“As soon as the guidance for opening was published in July, we put plans in place, consulted with staff and kept parents fully informed.

“This means we are in as good a position as we can be to ensure a smooth start to the term.

“This will not be school ‘as we know it’ but after 14 weeks of school closure, it is education for real and for all.”

Chris Hirst, headteacher of Sonning Common Primary School, said: “We are looking forward to seeing the parents and children that we haven’t seen for months.

“Our priority is children’s health and wellbeing. Each year group will be separated but we will be allowing each of the classes within the years to mix as the children have not seen each for months. We’ve stayed open since March, so we are quite used to this, except in September it will be a larger number of people.”

The school will have staggered arrival times for different year groups and there be a one-way system and a number of playtimes.

Each pupil will have their own hand sanitiser and no child will be able to attend school if they feel unwell.

Badgemore Primary School in Hop Gardens, Henley, will have year group bubbles with a maximum of 30 children each.

Children will need to maintain a 2m distance from the staff and the latter will be able to wear PPE if they want.

Headteacher Tim Hoskins said: “We will separate the playground into areas for the bubbles.

“We will not be having whole-school assemblies. We do have a big school field so I will be looking into the possibility of holding them on there.

“We have to be aware that covid-19 has not gone and therefore we have to maintain the safety procedures that we had in the summer.

“We did it successfully in July and we will continue cautiously to make sure that children receive the best education we can give.”

Rob Harmer, headmaster of St Mary’s School in Henley, said: “The team have worked hard across the summer to implement additional practical measures to ensure the safety of the children when they return to school, including staggered start and finish times for each year group, a one-way system through the school and rearranging classrooms to allow for social distancing.  

“Parent feedback has been enormously positive.”

A school spokeswoman added: “We know our parents are very keen to send their children back as they know it’s the best thing to do.”

The Government said this week that secondary schools and colleges in local lockdown areas should ensure pupils and staff wear masks in communal areas such as corridors.

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