In a few days, school corridors will be filled with the sound of energetic footsteps, and playgrounds bursting with laughter and Ark schools have been busy preparing to welcome students back.
Venessa Willms, Ark’s Director of Education, said:
“We are thrilled to be opening schools shortly and cannot wait to have our students back for what we hope will be a more settled year. We know how difficult the past 18 months have been and the sacrifices that everyone has had to make. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their ongoing support of our children and our schools over this time.
“While we recognise that there has been significant disruption to education, I am confident that, just as our staff did a brilliant job during the pandemic, our staff and schools are now ready to welcome our students back and to support each of them to settle in and have a successful and enjoyable year.
“If the past 18 months is anything to go on, it is likely that Covid-19 will continue to present some challenges into the new academic year. We will continue to follow the guidance, monitor and respond to situations as they arise, and keep our school communities fully informed.
“I wish all our students, staff and parents a smooth and happy return to school for the Autumn term.”
Our schools have followed Government guidance throughout the pandemic. With the new academic year, schools have revised or refined measures to ensure the continued safety of everyone. These include:
Testing remains essential in reducing the risk of transmission of infection within our school communities. In our primaries, staff will be encouraged to take rapid lateral flow tests twice a week during term-time.
In our secondary schools, staff will be encouraged to take rapid lateral flow tests twice a week during term-time. Students will be tested before the start of the term and will do home tests twice a week afterwards.
Schools will remind students about the importance of regular hand washing. They will continue with enhanced cleaning arrangements, paying particular attention to surfaces that are regularly touched. Schools will keep spaces well-ventilated and will not allow anyone with Covid-19 symptoms to come onto premises.
Schools will longer operate bubbles, which means that assemblies and larger group activities can resume. Students from different classes and year groups will be able to mix.
Face coverings will not have to be worn on-site. However, if staff members or students still want to wear them, they can do so.
If there is an outbreak within a school or in the local area, schools may be advised to reintroduce bubbles and face coverings. They may also support NHS Test and Trace with close contact tracing.
We wish everyone a wonderful start to the new term.