What to expect with pupils heading back to the classroom

The King's School, Harpenden

The King's School, Harpenden - Credit: The King's School

With the majority of pupils heading back to the classroom in just under two weeks time, 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 independent schools in the district, to hear how they're feeling about getting children back to school, and how they plan on doing so safely.

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.

Vernon Hales, headmaster of Aldwickbury School in Harpenden, said: “We are delighted to have all the boys at Aldwickbury returning on Monday, March 8, especially as our Year 7 and 8 are able to as well. It is entrance test time for many of them and it will be good to have them in school to do the final preparations for those important examinations.

"We have been so proud of the way boys, staff and parents have worked together to ensure the interruption of the boys’ education has been kept to a minimum – it has been a real community effort. We cannot wait for the school site to be full of happy boys enjoying not only working in their classroom and playing games on the fields, but most importantly, connecting in real life with their friends and teachers.”

Head of The King's School in Harpenden, Andy Reeves, told the Herts Ad: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming our pupils back on site. Our remote learning on Teams has been successful, but there is no substitute for being together physically.

"Our COVID measures remain in place to keep staff and pupils safe and we are ready to offer testing to our secondary pupils from the Monday morning.”