School visits start again at Washington Wetland Centre
Washington Wetland Centre has opened its doors to school parties for the first time since March.
Coronavirus meant the nature reserve in Pattinson was forced to stop all visits for almost three months, until it reopened to the public on June 10.
Now the centre, managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), is welcoming back school visits too, with learning sessions linked to the curriculum to make the most of the open-air environment.
The hands-on sessions are suitable for a range of ages and abilities. They are run by experienced staff, teaching through exploration and discovery. The reserve is open 364 days a year.
Staff have spent the last few months putting in place all necessary steps to keep school groups and other visitors safe. They are taking bookings now.
WWT Washington has also been accredited with the “We’re Good to Go” stamp of approval; a nationwide Covid-19 safety standard which ensures they are operating within the government and public health guidance.
As the current situation remains uncertain, WWT are also guaranteeing that schools can re-book or cancel free of charge should they be unable to visit due to the pandemic.
The centre is getting back on its feet. In August the Echo reported that it had been forced to get by with just six members of staff during furlough. It usually consists of 30 staff and 70 volunteers.
But they were delighted with the support and feedback they received when the public was re-admitted. Now school parties are returning too.
Learning manager, Joanne Newbury, said: “We’re very excited to be welcoming schools back to our wetlands. We’ve really missed interacting with the children, introducing them to nature and often showing them things they have never seen before.
“Being able to create a love for wildlife and teach children about the importance of wetlands and why they need protecting, is so important.
“The last few months have been a challenging time for teachers and we’ve been working hard to ensure that they and their pupils can still have a fantastic time whilst remaining safe here.
“It will be great to once again see children’s faces light up as they discover the wonder of wetlands and their wildlife.”