North East UK news Face masks, testing and Covid: North East school leaders react to March 8 return MetiNews.Com

MetiNews.Com - One headteacher reveals how many of the new measures were already in place, and helped to keep the virus at bay previously

North East UK news Face masks, testing and Covid: North East school leaders react to March 8 return MetiNews.Com

MetiNews.Com - One headteacher reveals how many of the new measures were already in place, and helped to keep the virus at bay previously

North East UK news  Face masks, testing and Covid: North East school leaders react to March 8 return MetiNews.Com
23 February 2021 - 17:00

Breaking News ! Watching from her office window as staff play footy with the kids, Sarah Holmes-Carne realises how different that view will be in a fortnight's time. "I'm usually used to looking at hundreds and hundreds of children," said the Kenton School headteacher. On March 8 she will be once again, after Boris Johnson announced every school in England would fully reopen that day, on what is hopefully the first major step on the road back to normality. Face masks will initially be compulsory in lessons, while secondary pupils will all be subject to mass Covid testing. But just the fact that her playground will once again be full of life is enough to get Sarah - and undoubtedly heads across the region - smiling again. "We are all genuinely ecstatic," she added. "We miss the children so much and you don't become a teacher, or a headteacher, not to be able to work with young people every day." Sarah Holmes-Carne, principal of Kenton School, Newcastle The Drayton Road academy is one of Britain's biggest, with almost 1,800 pupils. Yet despite its size, it may have found the blueprint earlier in the pandemic for keeping the virus out, with just a handful of cases recorded. "When the school opened last September, we didn't even send a bubble home, so it was well organised and safe," said the head. "It was a big risk coming back in September, but the fact that we had no in school transmissions - and that the few cases we did have were from the community - speaks volumes. "And we could only do that because we have had such brilliant support from the parents and staff. In many ways, Kenton was ahead of the curve when it came to the measures the Government are only now making compulsory. Face masks were adopted last year with staff - and even some safety-conscious pupils - wearing coverings with 'Kenton' branding in a bid to stop waste and "to give a bit of identity". Staff wearing branded Kenton School face masks (Image: Newcastle Chronicle) This time around, they will return - albeit sightlier comfier -while pupils won't have to spend longer than two hours without the chance to take a break. Ventilation has been a big factor in keeping the virus at bay, as was testing. "Since the beginning of this lockdown, we have been testing staff twice a week, so we already have a system," she added. "We have already put together a comprehensive plan to ensure we can mass test students.

. Read More Related Articles North East businesses react as Boris Johnson unveils 'cautious' plan to lift England's lockdown Read More Related Articles From seeing family and friends to going on holiday - all your lockdown questions answered After that the Government say pupils will be expected to take twice-weekly rapid tests at home. While Kenton had success in keeping the virus away, other schools were plagued with outbreaks which played a part in forcing the country to lockdown for a second time. While some, such as the children of key workers, have been allowed to return, others have spent months away as experts tried to find a way to let them return without pushing the infection rate up. Mass testing could be the answer. However, Peter Snowdon, Chief Operating Officer for the Laidlaw Schools Trust which runs a string of schools across the North East, admits the new measures are another hurdle to jump over. Academy 360, Sunderland (Image: Copyright Unknown) "We welcome the return of pupils to school on 8 March but this will be challenging, in particular carrying out three Covid-19 tests in school for all secondary pupils during the first week whilst delivering lessons," he said. The Government has allowed for staggered return of pupils in that first week to try and make testing smoother, something Peter admits is "helpful". And his trust - which has a wide portfolio of institutions including the Excelsior Academy in Newcastle and Academy 360 in Sunderland - said home testing should prove a big boost in combating Covid. “In addition, going forward, the plan for secondary pupils to be provided with two rapid tests per week to use at home is beneficial as this will relieve pressure on school staff," he added. “We will continue to update our risk assessments and ensure that we put in place all we can to stop the spread of the virus.” Testing in education settings is already well-established, with recent figures revealing four million tests had been conducted across schools, colleges and universities. However Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said these new steps should help fill parents, staff and pupils with confidence as they return to school - and to an education many have been forced to lose out on. Gavin Williamson "The testing of staff and students ahead of their return to secondary schools and colleges, alongside strengthened safety measures, should reassure families and education staff that extra measures are in place alongside the existing bubble system, enhanced hygiene and Covid secure precautions," he said. "We are all well aware that being back in school or college brings huge benefits to young people’s education, development and wellbeing. "The classroom is the very best place for education and the return of face-to-face teaching for all pupils will be a welcome move for pupils and parents across the country." Read More Related Articles £40 million cuts and 4.95 per cent Newcastle council tax hike set to be signed off next week Read More Related Articles How schools will test pupils for Covid-19 when face to face teaching returns from March 8

Source = MetiNews.Com

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North East UK news Face masks, testing and Covid: North East school leaders react to March 8 return MetiNews.Com


North East UK news Face masks, testing and Covid: North East school leaders react to March 8 return MetiNews.Com


North East UK news Face masks, testing and Covid: North East school leaders react to March 8 return MetiNews.Com


North East UK news Face masks, testing and Covid: North East school leaders react to March 8 return MetiNews.Com

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