Teachers and parents welcome schools reopening announcement
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Teachers and parents have agreed the announcement that schools will reopen in March is much-needed to support wellbeing.
This should ease the pressure on parents who have been overseeing home schooling since Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown on January 5.
St Martha's Catholic Primary School, Gaywood, headteacher Hayley Pink said: "We know parents have found it difficult.
"After four weeks, we had a massive influx of parents wanting places at school because they were finding it really hard as critical keyworkers.
"They were keeping children at home and doing the best they could, but they needed a place at school."
With a number of measures previously being implemented in October, many schools are confident they can facilitate the safe return of pupils.
Such measures include staggered entry, opening windows and doors, face coverings and hand sanitiser stations.
But the GMB union, which represents school support staff, has called for fully revised risk assessments to be published for a full return to school, and said the government should fund additional safety measures.
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Luke Greer, who teaches A-Level students at Reepham High School and College, said: "We need to get the students back as soon as possible, but I am concerned that, like last time, the infections rates go up.
"Teacher unions are suggesting phasing in primary school children coming back first. Perhaps they should consider primaries first then those pupils who are taking exams, before the rest of the secondaries."
Mr Greer continued: "It has been a real challenge and many parents are struggling with home schooling.
"The provision of remote learning is far better than the first time but there is still an incredible strain on parents and children are needing that sense of routine they get at school."
Mr Greer believes mental wellbeing will be supported through pupils returning to the classroom, and seeing their classmates again.
He said: "It is very difficult to gauge if a pupil understands something over a computer screen. Motivation-wise, it is harder for younger pupils to maintain levels of concentration at home."
Jobs site Glassdoor said its study among 2,000 parents having to work from home showed that few are working uninterrupted or at peak production.
A typical home worker disrupted by their children is interrupted on average six times a day, with 13pc of employees surveyed being interrupted 10 times a day, said the report.
An anonymous Great Yarmouth parent said: "It is right that schools are reopening. My 15-year-old needs the routine and social contact of school.
"Too much time in their bedrooms on screens is not good for their mental or physical health and at that age it is hard to have much influence on their studies.
"This year's Year 11's have been the most affected of the whole pandemic and the damage that keeping them home any longer could do, outweighs the Covid risk."
Another parent from North Walsham, who did not wish to be named, added: "Our school has been amazing supporting us with regular phone calls and messages from their teachers but we really do now need them back in the classrooms if possible as we are starting to worry they are missing out on so much, not just academically but socially.
"Also home schooling has been challenging at times. One thing this has done is made us really appreciate the teachers and school and all they do for the children."
Mrs Pink said: "We can't quite fathom why they have not offered the vaccinations already. Being a primary school means we can't always maintain as much social distance as we would like to with young children around."
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has called for a phased return of students to classrooms over a period of time - similar to in Wales and Scotland where schools began reopening to the youngest pupils on Monday.