Headteacher explains measures taken to keep children safe as schools return

1 June 2020, 08:58

By Kate Buck

A headteacher has explained how his school will be implementing safety measures to keep his pupils safe as schools re-open today.

Thousands of Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 students will be filling classrooms once more, more than two months after being shut to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

James Singleterry, headmaster of Stukeley Meadows in Cambridgeshire, told LBC News a survey he put out before schools returned indicated a little over half of parents are allowing their children to return.

He also explained how his school have introduced measures to keep the 120 pupils who are returning as safe as possible.

Each room has been limited to nine children, each with their own desk spaced two metres apart from one another.

Every room has also been given a hygiene station, with anti-bacterial gel and wipes for children and teachers to use throughout the day.

Staff will also be focusing on the "Three Ts" throughout the day - toilets, touch points and tables - to clean before every classroom undergoes a deep clean each evening.

James Singleterry  is the headmaster of Stukeley Meadows, Cambridgeshire
James Singleterry is the headmaster of Stukeley Meadows, Cambridgeshire. Picture: LBC News
Desks have been put apart so pupils can adhere to social distancing
Desks have been put apart so pupils can adhere to social distancing. Picture: LBC News

"The biggest challenge for us is to figure out how to best serve our community," Mr Singleterry said.

"We have put a survey out to parents to see how they feel about a potential return, and many of them have been very positive and they know schools are doing their best at keeping children safe.

"But they're also being very realistic."

Mr Singleterry said that some parents are comparing "a very limited opportunity in school with different looking classrooms" with the prospect of their child remaining at home for a few more weeks.

In terms of the logistics of welcoming their pupils back and keeping social distancing in place, parents have been given staggered drop off times and have been encouraged to only have one adult at the school gates.

They will then be given a place on the playground to stand - similar to a supermarket queuing system - and met by teachers to lead them into the classroom.

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But Mr Singleterry said one of the key concerns for parents was children not understanding or being able to follow social distancing.

He said: "We are going to promote and encourage social distancing amongst children, so when we think they are getting too close or when we believe they are not following instructions we will gently guide them to not do that.

"However, we acknowledge that that will happen, and will more than likely happen with our younger children.

"The key element to our approach is that they will remain in their bubble of children, and if they're not socially distancing as well as they could, they will be in that group."

But in terms of the playground, Mr Singleterry said they will not be using chalk boxes like other countries have done, but will again be encouraging pupils to stay away from one another.