Chesterfield headteachers reflect on successful first day as pupils return to classrooms after Covid closures

Headteachers in Chesterfield have reflected on a successful first day as pupils returned to school on Monday after months of remote learning.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 5:46 pm

Most secondary schools are starting with a phased return this week to allow for pupils take Covid tests, while primary schools opened for all pupils on March 8.

It marks the first stage of the Government's roadmap out of the latest national coronavirus lockdown which has been in place since the beginning of January.

At Spire Junior School, there was a mixture of excitement and nervousness on Monday morning with staff on hand to reassure pupils, the majority of whom were stepping into the classroom for the first time since the Christmas break.

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Children at Henry Bradley Nursery and Infant School celebrating on Monday

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Headteacher Dave Shaw said: “We were so excited to welcome all our children back today and open the gates for all. We have staggered starts for different year groups, which enabled us to offer a takeaway 'cuppa and cake' to our families as a 'thank you' for their support during lockdown with home learning.

"We had music playing and a welcome back banner. All staff were on the yard to re-assure our children and parents and to support them overcoming any anxiety about returning.

"The 'learning buzz' is back in school and we're so pleased.”

Happy children at the welcome sign at Spire Junior School

Tracy O'Malley, headteacher of Henry Bradley Nursery and Infant School in Brimington, said: “After a tough few months, today marks the start of some normality as our wonderful children return to school. As the new Headteacher at Henry Bradley, this is even more of a milestone as this is the first time I have seen the school full.

“It was a wonderful sight to see so many children with great big smiles on their faces ready to be back at school with their friends, their teachers and the whole Henry Bradley community! I know the whole staff have certainly missed them!

“I am looking forward to getting to know all of the children and their families and cannot wait to hear laughter echoing throughout the school and us becoming the amazing school family that I know Henry Bradley is.”

Pupils in secondary schools across Chesterfield are, like their peers, now being asked to wear face coverings wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, including in the classroom, unless they are exempt.

The Department for Education said the rules do not apply to younger children in nurseries and primary schools but teachers, staff and adult visitors should wear face coverings where possible.

All primary and secondary school staff across the town are also being offered twice-weekly rapid Covid tests, while students at secondary school will be tested three times in the first two weeks of school before being given two tests each week to use at home.

Speaking on Sunday Andrew Knowles, headteacher of Tupton Hall School, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming all of our wonderful students back to school next week!

"The testing has been ongoing since January, and we are ready to test all of our students, in order to add an extra layer of protection for our students, staff and wider community.”