Shaun O’Hara, a teacher at St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School in Lydiate, describes what it was like to return to the classroom back in September after the COVID-19 closure to the majority of pupils.
Shaun said: “Back to school – and I, for one, was delighted. Within our school, staff returned with a renewed energy and optimism that we would be able to make the transition back to full-time education as smooth as possible for our pupils.
“Two INSET days provided us with the opportunity to meet, socially distanced, to finalise our plans. We implemented a staggered arrival into school for each year group as well as a new learning timetable, which took hand-washing into account at various points throughout the day.
“Each class is grouped as a bubble. This means that the children and any adults working with them remain within their own bubble throughout the school day. We have designated areas for each bubble to play in and any equipment used by another group must be either quarantined or disinfected before its next use.
“We are all guilty of sometimes not giving the children enough credit and those first few days back were a shining example of that. Not only have they embraced the many changes to the school day, they have also returned with an increased thirst for learning and a desire to pick up exactly where we left off.
“While we all wish we could meet as a school for assemblies, it simply can’t be done right now. Yet class assemblies are taking place each week and we are still giving out weekly awards to show the pupils just how much we recognise and admire their individual strengths.
“There has been a lot of talk in the media about whether it is safe to return to school at this time. I can’t speak for anybody else but, in my school, I absolutely do feel safe. Adults are following social-distancing guidelines and the children have adapted to the new rules seamlessly. Throughout this crazy time, school has been a welcome slice of normality and I am grateful to everybody within St Gregory’s that it is such a positive environment. I feel very lucky to be spending my days in the best job in the world – long may that continue!”