Lancashire headteachers say they are ready for the new term
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With all students in Lancashire being back in school from today, two local headteachers assure parents that their schools are ready to provide a safe environment for staff and students alike.
Azra Butt, head teacher of Eldon Primary School in Preston, where all staff are double vaccinated, said: “It's been wonderful to welcome the children back after the summer break.
"We are very well prepared, as over the last 18 months our systems to combat Covid have been well established and have worked, as we have had minimum cases and therefore disruptions to our learning.
"Our systems in school have not changed hugely, as we know the virus is still around in the community."
Azra explains that the school has kept many of the previous safety measures, including staggered starts, breaks, lunchtimes and pickups, regular hand washing, extra cleaning systems and ventilation, as well as introducing new measures such as blended assemblies, where some attend face to face whilst others access from their classroom.
Although the 2 metre rule is no longer legally required, children are also asked to maintain their distance from each other, whilst the school has been organised into 4 larger groups so that if additional control measures are needed, they can be introduced without affecting everyone.
Azra added: "We are watching how things progress and making changes slowly. We are feeling quietly confident in our approach at the moment; if cases happen in our school community, we know the additional strategies that we will need to resort to as and when we need to with the support from the Local Authority and PHE."
Her assurance comes following the Director of Public Health in Lancashire's warning last week that a rise in Covid-19 cases is expected with students returning.
Following public health guidance, the school has measures in place including increased ventilation, hand washing and cleaning, as well as all students being offered rapid testing in school for the first two weeks, whilst members of staff have also all been tested.
Peter adds that they have invested in plenty of outdoor covered seating for students too, so that they can eat comfortably outside if they choose to.
Albany Academy also has a backup breakout management plan that will come into place if there is a rapid increase in cases in a short period of time, which includes putting in previous safety measures, such as greater segregation and face masks.
Peter said: “Student safety is our priority and I feel confident with everything we’ve done here, we’ve followed public health guidance all the way through, so it’s as safe as it can be.
"Parents have been very supportive of the changes we've made, and generally speaking they’ve been relieved that measures have been able to take a step back because they could see the disruptions it caused, for example last year we did staggered starts but now it’s great that kids can all be dropped off at the same time."
To help students catch-up following the disruptive year, the Albany Academy has also invested in additional staffing, particularly English, Maths and Science specialist teachers, to provide extra support in the lessons, and outside, as students who are particularly struggling will be invited to sessions before or after school as well.
Peter added: "It’s just been absolutely fantastic having all the students back in and they’ve really taken it in their stride, for some of them it’s been a long time since they’ve seen such a big group together, but they’ve just cracked on and it’s been great to see them interact with their peers in a way they haven’t been able to do for the past 12 months.”