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What the return to school has been like

Most pupils returned to school for the first time in more than two months on Monday and it was to a world of bubbles, restrictions in mixing and lots of hand washing.

For high schools like Glossopdale School and St Philip Howard Voluntary Catholic Academy, it meant students taking Covid-19 tests.

Both schools had started the process last week, with the cycle of three tests continuing this week followed by students self-testing at home. Meanwhile stringent safety measures are in force in every school in Glossop and the rest of High Peak.

Many of the borough’s larger schools are having staggered starting times to make sure that all pupils do not arrive back on the same day.

Pupils, whose parents are classed as key-workers, returned to school in January, but, for the majority, this week has been the first time since the New Year that they were back with their friends.

Pupils have now been meeting friends again, facing a teacher again instead of a computer screen....and getting back to the school day routine.

Things are as back to normal as it is possible to be at St Philip Howard Catholic Academy, where the message is ‘Team SPH has returned’.

As in most schools, the academy has a staggered opening start policy following the latest lockdown easing, with year groups beginning on different days to help with the round of Covid-19 testing.

But everyone will be in school by Friday and from the response of the students we interviewed on Tuesday, it’s great to be back.

A group of 11 and 12-year-olds said they had no problems with the testing, and it was great to meet up with friends and getting back to the school routine.

They all paid tribute to the welcome they received from teachers and other members of staff and they were happy with all the safety measures put in to protect them.

Archie and Jude, as the sons of key workers, had been back behind their desks for some time, but for some of the others - Isabella, Esme, Leah and Amy - it was the end of months of on-line lessons and being taught by teachers in classrooms. It’s the same with the staff who are enjoying working once more with the school packed with eager to learn youngsters.

Assistant headteacher Mrs Cox said: “Although we had a hugely successful period of remote provision with excellent attendance and engagement, we are really happy to welcome the children back into school as they are the heart of Team SPH and bring life to our school community.”

There’s a huge board just inside the entrance to the school which sets out the school’s philosophy: ‘Closer - Together on the Journey.’

St Philip Howard has gone out of its way to make sure that school life is as safe and as normal as it is possible to be.

There are hand sanitisers outside every classroom door, corridors are marked out in one direction walk-ways with everyone keeping their distance, while year form groups stay together and eat together.

The school said: “Although masks are required to be worn in lessons and in the school building, face coverings do not need to be worn when outside, during social times when social distancing must be followed instead, but we would insist face coverings are worn, outside, for pupils who are unable to follow our social distancing ruling." 

Images by John Parkins

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