What to expect with pupils heading back to the classroom

Thomas Alleyne School

Thomas Alleyne Academy will be doing a phased return to school - Credit: Harry Hubbard

With the majority of pupils heading back to the classroom, the county will be taking its first step towards unlocking itself from the confines of coronavirus restrictions next month.

We spoke to Herts County Council, the local authority for education, as well as one academy group about what to expect.

The move to send pupils back to schools on Monday, March 8 does not come without conditions. Primary school staff are set to take two rapid COVID-19 tests each week at home, while secondary and college students should take three tests a week using school facilities in the first week.

After the initial programme of three tests in school or college, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home.

Staff and students in secondary schools and colleges will be advised to wear masks at all times.

Councillor Terry Douris, cabinet member for education, said: “I would like to reassure our residents that we are already working closely with schools across the county to help them prepare for the safe return of all students and teaching staff to face-to-face learning from March 8.

“We’d like to pass on our thanks to everyone working in education, for their hard work and dedication over the past few months, providing face-to-face lessons for vulnerable children and those of critical workers and also supporting online learning. 

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“We know that schools are well prepared to adapt quickly and effectively to these changes and have robust risk assessment and processes in place to ensure the safety of students and school staff. 

“This is an important first step in the easing of current lockdown measures, but it’s vital that we all continue to play our part and follow the rules to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

“Parents and carers should expect further information about reopening directly from their nursery, school or college in the coming days. Thank you for your patience and understanding while arrangements are put into place.

The academy trust for Thomas Alleyne Academy in Stevenage, and North Herts College Campus' in Stevenage and Hitchin - Hart Schools Trust - is planning a phased return.

A spokeswoman told the Comet: "This will allow us to complete the required testing of students and staff and to ensure necessary protocols and procedures are in place following  government guidelines.

"Throughout lockdown we have remained open for small numbers of students to attend where necessary, so already have plans in place to increase capacity based on this model and in line with government guidance for educational settings.

"We are of course delighted to be welcoming back students to our schools and college campuses and getting back to face-to-face learning.

"We are currently reviewing and updating our reopening and testing plans and will communicate with all our students and their families shortly to provide them with the more details on our approach for week commencing the March 8."

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