‘Hopefully back for good’ - parents and headteachers on school re-openings
- Credit: Swaffham Church of England Primary
After weeks of lockdown learning at home schools are preparing to welcome back all pupils for the first time since the Christmas holidays.
All primary pupils will be back in classrooms from March 8 with secondary school students having a phased return as mass testing is introduced together with stricter rules around social distancing and face masks.
Amid warnings the move could lead to a new rise in Covid-19 infections, headteachers and parents spoke about the return to school.
‘Testing another hurdle we will manage’
Jon Ford, principal of Open Academy Norwich, said mass-testing of pupils was the latest huge hurdle schools had faced during the pandemic.
He said: “With this program, we are confident that we can get all students back to a more normal, albeit face covered, education during the week commencing March 8.
“Obviously, it is not possible to get everyone back at the same time, so we will be prioritising the older year groups and then those who missed most through self-isolation in the second lock down.
“I am sure that both school staff and parents and carers will be delighted with the move back to in person teaching for all, as it has become clear how vital face-to-face schooling is - even in the digital world of the 21st century.”
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‘I just hope this time they’re back for good’
David Johnson, whose son attends school in Thetford, said it was important for students to be back in normal lessons from now on, though he feared there could be more disruption if schools saw Covid cases.
“We’ll be doing the home testing but will everyone do it? That’s my worry,” he said. “Children cannot afford more disruption. They need to be back in school and the rest of the year is important to catch-up.”
‘Vaccinating staff would minimise further disruption’
Nicola Kaye, headteacher of Swaffham Primary Academy, said rolling out of the vaccination programme to all school staff would “minimise any further disruption to education”.
She said: “We recognise how important it is for our pupils’ wellbeing and mental health for them to be in school learning with their teachers, support staff and peers.
“I would like to pay tribute to my staff who have done an amazing job of balancing in school teaching to vulnerable children and children of critical workers alongside delivering live lessons and remote provision for those children learning from home and to thank parents and carers for their kind words and support.”
‘It never feels right without the children’
Ryan Freeman, headteacher of Peterhouse Academy in Gorleston said: “We are excited to have our children back, and we hope that this is the last time that we are in this situation.
“Our school is a family, and it never feels quite right without every child filling the corridors with their smiling faces.
“We know that the return to school will have to be planned very carefully and that many people will still be very worried about safety. We are doing everything we can to mitigate this.”
‘I have complete confidence’
Parent Julia Gibb, whose children attend Thomas Bullock CE Primary Academy in Shipdham, said although provision for learning remotely had been “fantastic”, she is pleased the school will be reopening on March 8.
“As somebody who is shielding, I fully understand that a cautious approach has been required, but working and home-schooling has been really challenging for all of us,” she said.
“The children are desperate to see their friends and be in school. It’s not just imperative for their learning, but for their mental health as well."
‘Everyone has to play their part’
Lucy Austin, head of school at Hewett Academy, said: “We are really keen to see our students back in school and we're doing everything we can to keep our community safe.
“Everyone has their part to play so I would encourage families to read the reopening plans for their school and make sure their child has a mask to wear.
“Share with your child the importance of following the rules and social distancing. We know lockdown has been tough on everyone and we're here to help.”