This week, we have welcomed back the rest of our school children to Hunter Hall. Following government guidelines, we have organized a steady, staggered return to school, adjusting school procedures to help us organize and implement social distancing and bubble measures with our young children.
Classrooms have been reconfigured, cupboards turned into creative spaces, and as much use as possible made of out of the outdoor and indoor space. The school hall has become a classroom, as has the library. We have loaned the use of two large mess tents, as well as using tarpaulin for shelter around the school grounds. Lots of classroom furniture has been placed in storage and instead children have a tray with their own textbooks and pencils etc. Staff have also been conscious of trying to give our year 6 leavers some positive opportunities to end their time with us, so are running our end of term production of ‘Peter Pan’ as a feature film, rather than as a play, so that we can observe social distancing.
Parents have been incredibly supportive of the move to get the whole school back, allowing the children to reconnect with their friends and get those extra vital few weeks of learning in place following a very successful period using TEAMS to keep connected with the children and still be able to deliver the curriculum as we would have in school. We even managed to deliver our Outdoor Education curriculum, with lessons like bike maintenance and route planning.
School lunches have been dispensed of and picnics are now the norm with parental approval, allowing us more flexibility to organise lunchtime and playtime safely, with bubbles having their own area for lunch and a set time to eat and play.
Staff have done their utmost to mitigate the effects of the pandemic with extra support put in place for children who need it, whilst on TEAMS and also as we have returned to school. Lots of bubbles and social distancing has meant that staffing duties are many and lessons have been adapted as some bubbles have meant that classes have had to be split between rooms and areas.
The Head teacher Donna Vinsome said, ‘ I am delighted to welcome all the children back, and whilst it has been a gargantuan task from the beginning of lockdown to make sure the children’s welfare and educational needs are met, to have them all back in school for these final few weeks is superb. However, it only works if we continue to try our hardest to maintain the government regulations, and it has been a truly huge team effort from staff, parents and children alike to uphold the rules they have put in place. Our governors have supported us all the way and our health and safety committee review our risk register at least weekly, to review our safety measures and keep us all as safe as possible. All schools are different and have their own set of circumstances and challenges to deal with, but with some very creative thinking, a lot of very hard work from the beginning of lockdown, over the Easter break and throughout this term as well as of course a huge amount of good will from all, we have found a way to make it work. We are all absolutely thrilled to have them back to school’.