How one Sunderland school has 'completely restructured' its day as pupils return from lockdown

A headteacher has praised the “grit and resilience” of his school community as it prepares to welcome back more pupils for the first time since the coronavirus lockdown began.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 5th June 2020, 5:55 pm

Year 1 and Year 6 children are expected to return to more than half of Sunderland’s 82 primary schools on Monday, June 8, after an 11-week gap.

The headteacher of one Sunderland school preparing to welcome pupils back has spoken about how it has had to “completely restructure the school day and how we approach every single facet of what we do”.

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Seaburn Dene Primary School headteacher John Howe checks a pupil's temperature ahead of the school reopening.

Seaburn Dene Primary School, in Torver Crescent, which has remained open for key worker children since the lockdown began, will have staggered starting times with separate entry and exit points for each year group.

Pupils will remain within their class “bubble” throughout the school day with a two-way radio system used by staff to ensure they do not accidentally bump into other year groups as they move to rooms such as the library.

Headteacher John Howe said: “Every routine you have mapped out for years has had to be completely rethought.

“We have had to completely restructure the school day and how we approach every single facet of what we do.”

One of the new safety signs at Seaburn Dene Primary School.

As well as the widespread introduction of sanitiser stations and social distancing floor markings, pupils will have their temperatures taken upon arrival with cleaners coming in at lunchtime – which now stretches to two sittings – as well as after school to disinfect classrooms.

Families are also urged to wash school uniforms daily with ties banned for both pupils and staff.

To avoid potential social distancing issues in changing rooms, children will be allowed to wear appropriate clothing throughout days where they take part in sport or other outdoor activities.

Mr Howe expects around 40 Year 1, Year 6 and key worker pupils to be in school next week out of an overall school roll of 210.

Sanitiser stations are now a common feature throughout the school in preparation for the return of more pupils.

Each returning year will be divided into two groups with one coming in Mondays-Wednesdays and the other Thursdays-Fridays before the timetable is reversed in week two.

The school will also close at lunchtime on Fridays for additional cleaning and so staff can review risk assessments.

Other year groups will gradually return on a similar basis before the summer break.

He said: “We have kept in constant contact with our children’s families via different channels and would encourage anyone to contact us with any concerns.

“Many have and if there is a positive to take from all this then it is that it has brought our school community even closer together.

“Everyone from the governors to the children and their families has shown grit and resilience during all this.

“The staff have been amazing, going above and beyond in working from home and working from school during the lockdown.

“They will have had their own concerns but they have come in and put the needs of the children first.”

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