Thousands of pupils across Staffordshire are getting ready to go back to school tomorrow (Wednesday), for the first time since lockdown began in March.
Schools up and down the county have been busy putting in measures to ensure children and young people can learn in a safe environment in school.
Every school will have their own measures in place. These could include class bubbles, staggered starts and ends to the school day, increased hygiene measures, one-way systems, and the increased use of outdoor lessons.
County Councillor Jonathan Price, Cabinet Member for Education said: “Schools have been working really hard to make sure they are safe for children to return. Every school is different, and will have their own individual plan that they have communicated to parents. I know some parents might be concerned about sending their children back, but I want to reassure them that schools are pulling out all the stops to create a safe environment for their pupils, so they can get back to learning as soon as possible.
“I am really proud of our schools and children under these very difficult circumstances throughout lockdown and the summer holidays. Everyone has pulled together to make sure we can have a safe return to school, and I want to thank everybody for their hard work throughout this challenging time.”
Ian Goodwin, Head Teacher of Tillington Manor Primary School in Stafford said: “Like all schools, we’re looking forward to welcoming our children back into the school. We want to reassure parents that we’re doing all that we can to ensure everything is safe in school, like putting in extra hygiene measures, class bubbles, and social distancing where appropriate.
“We’re excited to get back to teaching, and we’re making sure everyone can be as safe as possible when they come back.”
Maria Mincher, Head Teacher at Kingsmead School in Hednesford said: “Kingsmead staff have been working hard over the summer to get the school ready for a safe return, and staff are really excited about welcoming students back.
“We can’t wait to get back to the business of educating our young people and helping them to secure future success. We have introduced a number of measures such as a one-way system, forward facing desks, year group recreation zones and teacher zones, and hand sanitiser has been placed in classrooms and on corridors. Kingsmead is fully staffed, fully prepared and ready to educate our young people when they return to us, so let’s go.”
The county council has also been busy to ensure journeys to school in September are safe and hassle-free. Children are being encouraged to walk, cycle or park and stride to school where possible, to avoid traffic congestion.
Individual maps are available to parents from their school to alert them to hotspot areas, and give them locations where they can park and walk into school.
The county council has worked with companies to put extra hygiene and cleaning measure in place on dedicated school buses. It has also arranged for 1,160 temporary extra bus seats on some of the busiest school routes, where commercial services with seat restrictions in place wouldn’t be able to carry all potential passengers.
Jonathan continued: “We want to avoid congestion outside school gates as much as possible, and one of the best ways to do this is to walk, cycle or park and stride to school. All schools have an Active Travel plan which parents should have—if you don’t, ask your school. If we all work together, we can beat congestion outside school.”