Children across the city return to school as lockdown restrictions ease

Children across Sheffield  have gone back to school today, many for the first time in over two months, as part of the first step in the Government’s “roadmap” out of national lockdown.

Many secondary schools across the city are operating a phased return, whilst Primary schools are expected to be open to all pupils from today.

Three onsite asymptomatic Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests will be required in secondary school settings, with face masks to be worn in classrooms. For many pupils, today will be their first day back in the classroom this year, after months of enforced online learning.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the reopening of schools to all pupils as the first step towards “a sense of normality”. As well as the reopening of schools, today sees the return of wraparound childcare for vulnerable children; one nominated person can visit a care home and two people from different households can meet outside for recreation.

King Ecgbert School in Sheffield is operating a staggered return for pupils throughout the week, with remote learning continuing for some years until Wednesday. Sixth form pupils received two of their three lateral flow tests last week in an effort to ease the extensive testing process.

Rapid testing using Lateral Flow Devices in secondary schools will help to quickly identify staff and pupils who are infectious but do not have any coronavirus symptoms. Test kits will be sent to the homes of families with school aged children next week to continue the testing twice a week at home.

Lewis, aged 16, has been attending his sixth form lessons online since January. He said: “I’m excited to be back. It’s nice to be able to socialise again. We have all missed out but hopefully this will be the last time we’re out of school.”

Schools have partially remained open throughout lockdown for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

Christine Carr, mother of two, has expressed her confidence in the handling of the return for all pupils: “I am happy the school is doing all they can to make the return as safe as possible, my son has had a test and is looking forward to seeing his friends again and getting back in the classroom.”

There has been concern among parents and teachers about the mental health of young people and how some pupils will catch up on missed lessons, having experienced disadvantages as a result of the pandemic.

Asked on how her children have coped with online learning, Mrs Carr said: “It has certainly been a challenge but they both seem to have managed.

”It definitely isn’t the same as being in a school environment and has been a struggle for many other children. The school have been great at reaching out and making sure no-one is struggling so we can only hope this carries on when they go back.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Alice Fletcher

First year journalism student.

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