Somerset’s education leaders have been busy over the summer getting their schools, colleges and early years settings ready for September. Children of all ages are expected to return to school, and a message on behalf of the county’s headteachers has been issued today – “we’re ready and we can’t wait to welcome you back.”
Morwenna Dunstan of Bridgwater’s St Mary’s CofE School is one of three heads who took part in a second special video message for parents and pupils available on Somerset County Council’s website and social media channels. “We want to show everyone what to expect – things are going to look and feel a bit different, but we want pupils to feel safe and familiar with their surroundings,” she said.
Another of the Heads, Emma Wilkes from Oakfield, said: “School is best for children’s health and wellbeing. We’ve organised our settings so children can make the most of the space while ensuring groups are manageable.”
Measures in place will vary from school to school but may include:
- Year group or class group bubbles who will stay together each day. Bubbles will alternate between inside and outside spaces to minimize unnecessary contact.
- One-way systems just like in shops and supermarkets for dropping off and picking up.
- Structured and regular hand sanitizing and cleaning of spaces.
- Desks organised in rows all facing the front and spaced out.
- Outside areas divided into ‘zones’, which are allocated to specific groups of children.
- Staggered start and finish times to avoid to many parents and children mingling.
Head Teacher of Selworthy School in Taunton, Mark Ruffett, explained some schools have specialist classrooms, which will need cleaning regularly and may have to be booked. Faye Purbrick, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “We know that there will be concerns and anxiety about schools returning next week and we will continue provide support to education colleagues and families over the coming months.
“I’m sure the new arrangements will be strange for students at first, but we must also recognise the importance of attending school and the potential disadvantages for many students of continued absence. Returning to school, and some form of normality, really is the best option for both their future education attainment and social development, as well as for their mental health and wellbeing. Please speak to your school if you have any concerns about returning to school.
“As with before the summer break, Somerset schools are doing an amazing job of delivering the best school environment and education for all our students and I am continually grateful for everything that they are doing to reassure everyone and welcome their students back to school.”
You can see the video here https://youtu.be/m9x3cifSkMQ