THERE is relief but also concern ahead of schools reopening, with parents in and around Salisbury having mixed feelings about their children going back to the classroom.
Students of all year groups will return to school for the first time since the start of the pandemic from as early as next week.
It is a moment feared by some for the potential repercussions it could have on the number of infections but also a much-anticipated one for those eager to get back to a level of normality.
Laura Saunders, whose son George, eight, is a pupil at Durrington Junior School says she’ll be sending him back when the school reopens on September 2.
“At the end of the day kids need an education and it’s all well and good parents doing it but they’ll learn more in a proper environment and with their friends,” she said.
Mum-of-three Stefanie Delaforce will also be sending her children back as St Osmund’s reopens on Wednesday.
“I am nervous about them going back however I am confident that everything is more under control to what it was back in March, I also believe that our school will be good at keeping the children’s hygiene under control.”
“School routine is socially and mentally important for children [and] mine miss there friends,” she added.
Although some parents are reluctant to see their children return to the classroom, with a few saying they would rather their kids continue to study from home, schools say they have been working hard to make classrooms Covid secure.
Sophie Short, Deputy Headteacher at Amesbury CE primary school, which remained open for vulnerable children and children of key workers, said: “We had 148 children by the time we closed for the summer holidays so with that many children in we were able to test a lot of the things we will need to have in place when the whole school reopens.”
Among these are different entrances for different school bubbles, one-way systems and lots of hand sanitising, which Mrs Short says pupils have adapted well to.
“A large number of children have got used to staying within their own coloured zone so when they come back in September they will be used to those rules and the children that haven’t been to school will just follow their example,” she added.
As calls for face coverings to be made mandatory in schools grow louder – in Scotland they are already compulsory for students in secondary school – Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that medical evidence will be reviewed and advice could change accordingly.
“At the moment we’re not anticipating that children and staff will be wearing masks unless the guidance changes,” said Mrs Short.
“We’re going to stick to whatever the guidance says because it’s more clear to everyone if we all follow the same rules.”
At Godolphin, procedures are in place to safeguard students and staff when they return on September 7.
Headteacher Emma Hattersley said: “We have staggered arrival, break and lunchtimes, enhanced cleaning and handwashing measures, and younger students have been grouped in teaching group bubbles. Much thought has gone into this and we continue to review inline with current guidelines.”
“I think social distancing will be the biggest challenge for our students. We are a very close community and having to separate year groups goes against our norm.”
Wiltshire Council has produced a booklet with advice on how to prepare children for going back.
Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: “After months of being at home there will be students who can’t wait to go back and others who are daunted by the prospect.
“We know schools have been very busy preparing to ensure we have the right timetables and systems in place so pupils can confidently return to school and I want to recognise all of their efforts to be ready.
“This booklet provides tips on how to get into the mindset of returning to school and also some helpful general advice we hope everyone will find useful.”
John Glen, MP for Salisbury said: “I think the whole of Salisbury will be grateful for the efforts of local teachers and support staff in preparing for the return of children to school for the new term next week. I welcome the guidance from the Chief Medical officer which explains the extremely low risks that the government is following in the advice on face masks.”