Schools have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic for the children of key workers and vulnerable children but, from Monday, more than two million more pupils have been invited back across the country.
John Galvin, headteacher at Petworth CofE Primary School, said the reopening on Monday went ‘extremely well’, due to the ‘hard work and planning’ by staff.
He added: “We have been very clear with our message to the parents regarding social distancing; the children will not adhere to the two metre social distancing. Although we will periodically remind the children of trying to stay away from each other, we will not constantly remind them.”
Mr Galvin said the smiles of the children were the ‘biggest compliments we received’.
“It was great to see the children learning together, especially outside,” he said. “One parent stated that her daughter, made no comment about any of the changes which speaks volumes!
“We need to give parents confidence that school is a safe place for them to send their children.
“The only way we can do this is by parents who are sending their children in, spreading the word of what we are doing.
“No parent is wrong in not sending their child to school. No parent is wrong in sending their child to school.
“It is a huge decision that we can only help parents to decide by answering their questions and showing them what we are doing.”
Stedham Primary School opened the doors to children on Tuesday after a final day of preparation for all the staff.
Headteacher Malcolm Meaby said it was a ‘joy to see the return of many of our children’ and a ‘pleasure to see them enjoy their learning and having fun together’.
He added: “The return of the children to our school has gone smoothly only because of the hard work that has gone into preparing for this day by all the staff. The detailed risk assessments and efforts to communicate with parents has also helped ensure that every member of the Stedham community knew what to expect.”
As well as extending the outdoor learning area with more gazebos, Petworth Primary School has been using smaller class sizes, has rearranged the tables and put mandatory tape and signs around the school.
Mr Galvin said: “The parents have been fantastic with their support of the staggered starts and finishes.
“The staff have been amazing and really keen to return to school.
“They have agreed to have shortened breaks so the children keep to their groups we cancelled our inset day so we can accept children immediately and decided not to do part time as we want the children to get back into ‘normal’ school life as soon as possible.
“The teachers are also continuing their online learning for children who are not attending school.”
So that returning to school ‘wasn’t a shock’, one of the key worker children made a film about what the other pupils should expect. Click here to watch the full clip
Meanwhile, in Stedham, the importance of regular hand washing and social distancing was highlighted to the children. The school discussed how parents should arrive and depart ensuring they line up at the designated area and the staggered start and end times for each class helped to minimise the amount of parents waiting at the front gate of the school.
Mr Meaby said: “The teachers had worked very hard to prepare their classrooms and outside areas to ensure that they were following the guidelines set by the Government.
“A great deal of time and attention was given to cleaning and hygiene.
“All the staff went through the risk assessment in some detail so that all risks were minimised.
“A video was made for the parents and children to show them how the school was different and how they should arrive and depart.”
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