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Smiling faces as West Norfolk schools return to the classroom

It was smiling faces all round as West Norfolk's teachers and pupils welcomed the return to the classroom this week after more than two months of lockdown.

Youngsters at St Martha's Catholic Primary School made their way into the school gates, where they were welcomed by head of school Hayley Pink.

Jane Gardener, executive headteacher at Sandringham and West Newton Primary Academy, said: “It was so wonderful to have everyone back in school, seeing all the smiling faces and the excited chatter, it made school feel like school again hearing the buzz in every classroom.”

Among the youngsters who returned to the primary school on Monday was pupil Emily, who said: “I was a bit nervous but excited to be coming back, but I had a really good day. I loved seeing my friends and being able to play with them again.”

Another pupil, Bella added: “I think school is my most favourite place!”

Primary school students were welcomed back to the classroom on Monday, while secondary students have had a staggered return throughout the week.

Nicola Kaye, headteacher from Swaffham Church of England Primary Academy, part of DNEAT said: “We were delighted to welcome all children back to our school yesterday. I would like to thank our parents and carers for following our COVID rules and supporting their child's return to school.

“We recognise how important it is for our pupils’ well-being and mental health for them to be in school learning with their teachers, support staff and peers."

She added: "I would like to pay tribute to my staff who have done an amazing job of balancing in school teaching to vulnerable children and children of critical workers alongside delivering live lessons and remote provision for those children learning from home and to thank parents and carers for their kind words and support.

"The welfare of staff, pupils and our school community remains our utmost priority. We would welcome the Government rolling out the vaccination programme to all school staff to protect staff health and minimise any further disruption to education.”

Children at the school were thrilled to return after 10 weeks of isolation in the third national lockdown since the pandemic began almost a year ago.

Abbi, in reception class, said: “I am so happy to be back! I get to see all my friends and all my friends are back. I can play with all my friends. I love my friends.”

Year six pupil Emily said: “It feels strange to be back at school but also exciting because I get to see everyone in person again. It's also strange because I haven't seen anyone in so long. Overall, it's been great so far.”

West Norfolk's high schools had a staggered return over the week as testing was introduced. Springwood High School reported that testing had gone well with three asymptomatic positive results from 1844 students.

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