West Norfolk schools welcome the return to the classroom as government's roadmap is revealed
West Norfolk's educators have welcomed the news that pupils across the country are due to return to schools on March 8 as lockdown restrictions ease.
Last night's announcement revealed the prime minister's roadmap for reducing lockdown restrictions, including a return to the classroom for students.
Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor said: "I welcome the PM's roadmap for giving us clarity on how lockdown can be eased, in stages, based on the data.
"Covid figures in Norfolk are going down but we are not complacent and want to ensure that this progress is maintained as lockdown eases.
"We will support schools in making the preparations they need to ensure children can return from the 8th of March. We will make decisions on our other services in due course and will update you when we can."
Schools are able to decide on a phased return during the week of March 8, and attendance will be compulsory with penalty fines able to be imposed.
Secondary schools will be expected to introduce mass Covid testing, with parents expected to carry out the testing at home, following three tests in school. Masks will also be required for some secondary school classrooms.
Oliver Burwood, CEO of the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust (DNEAT) which manages 15 schools within West Norfolk, said: “We welcome the Prime Minister's announcement of a return to school for all pupils. We know that being in school is vital for all pupils' learning and well being, and that there is a disproportionate impact on disadvantaged pupils when they cannot attend.
"We will likely take the opportunity to stagger the return of our secondary pupils over a week and believe that the additional testing and other measures, including the further requirements on mask wearing, will support a safe return.
"We are working with all of our academies now to work through the guidance issued yesterday. We will continue to ensure that Headteachers take the lead in planning a safe return for all pupils by working with staff, families and children in the academies that they lead.”
Among the academies managed by DNEAT are Swaffham Church of England Primary Academy and Sandringham and West Newton Church of England Primary Academy.
Nicola Kaye, headteacher of Swaffham Church of England Primary Academy, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming all our pupils back into 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.
"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.”
Mrs Gardener, executive headteacher of Sandringham and West Newton Church of England Primary Academy and Flitcham Church of England Primary Academy, said: “We are delighted to be having our pupils back! It’s what every teacher wants. It’s better all round for the pupils and parents and getting teaching back to normality.Children have been missing their peers - it’s going to make a huge difference.”
“Managing remote learning and learning in school for our key worker children has been challenging but successful. Parents have played a great role in home schooling, but we are so excited to get our pupils back in class.
"We constantly review our risk assessments and ensure that we are are up to date and in line with what the guidelines advise so parents and pupils can feel assured of safety in the school environment.”
Andy Johnson, executive headteacher of the West Norfolk Academies Trust: “We’re looking forward to welcoming our children back next month.”