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West Norfolk schools group ready to re-open, but no final decision until next week

One of the main bodies running schools in West Norfolk says it is ready to welcome some pupils back, but won't decide whether to do so until next week.

Officials of the West Norfolk Academies Trust (WNAT) have agreed provisional plans for its primary schools to begin admitting Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children again next month.

The group, which sponsors seven primaries in the borough, says it is following current government guidance.

Clenchwarton Primary School is one of the schools covered by the West Norfolk Academies Trust's plans
Clenchwarton Primary School is one of the schools covered by the West Norfolk Academies Trust's plans

But its chairman, Roger Livesey, added: "We would like to stress that the health and safety of our students and staff is paramount.

"This is why we will not make a final decision until May 28th after consulting with our staff."

The question of when, and how, schools should begin to admit more pupils has been highly controversial, with several unions raising concerns over the safety of their members and pupils alike.

Earlier this week, another West Norfolk schools boss, Paul Donkersloot of the KWEST Academy Trust, confirmed his organisation was also working towards re-opening from June 1.

But he said he also understood the "anxieties" that surrounded the issue.

WNAT is in charge of the primary schools in Clenchwarton, Gaywood, Snettisham, Walpole Cross Keys and West Lynn, as well as the Heacham Infant and Junior schools.

It says its current plans were drawn up after a survey of parents with children in the relevant year groups showed half were prepared for their youngsters to return to the classroom.

Executive headteacher Andy Johnson said: "We have been working with our schools to carry out risk assessments in line with Government advice.

"At this stage, it is our intention to allow Year Six children to start on June 1 with Year One children starting the following day and nursery and reception children the day after.

"In order to adhere to the government guidelines, we will need to keep group numbers to no more than fifteen.

"We will also be carrying out a range of other precautions to keep children and adults safe including placing signage and instructions around buildings and staggering arrival times."

Other provisional precautions include children having their own equipment and tables to use on a daily basis.

Unnecessary items, including soft furnishings, will be removed from classrooms and staff will be frequently cleaning surfaces that are touched often. No other adults, other than staff, will be allowed in school, including office areas.

Mr Johnson continued: "We are planning to minimise contact between children and adults by changing the layout of classes and spacing desks out as far as possible, we'll be staggering break and lunch times and cancelling all breakfast and after-school clubs.

"Only one adult will be allowed to bring their child to school and social distancing on the pick-up or playground area will be encouraged."

He added: "Daily lessons from The Oak National Academy will be taught so that it follows what is being asked of home-schooled children."

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