THE headteacher of St Michael’s Primary School in Lyme Regis has expressed his gratitude to staff, parents and children after welcoming back pupils over the past two weeks.
The school has been open for the past two weeks for reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils, as well as children of key workers and vulnerable children, with an average of 20 pupils attending each day and 12 staff on site.
Headteacher Nick Kiddle has praised the “amazing” children for sticking to social distancing and cleaning rules. He has also thanked parents for their support and paid tribute to hardworking staff.
In a letter Mr Kiddle said: “All of the children have been amazing, following distancing and cleaning rules whilst still being actively engaged in their new style of learning. We have also been supported by all their parents and this has really helped us run as smoothly as possible every day.
“All available rooms and all staff are being used and although not full to our safe operating capacity, our numbers are increasing and we will reach the maximum number for some of the rooms next week.
“After the anxieties and apprehension of week one, week two has brought a more relaxed approach, familiar timetables, learning structure and familiar COVID-19 routines.
“The intensity of working in such small groups, the lack of adult to adult contact and following the strict cleaning and distancing guidelines, teaching and continuing to prepare home learning for those groups still at home, has meant that staff and children became very tired towards the latter part of the week.”
St Michael’s has been closing at lunchtime on Fridays to allow staff to catch up on how the week has gone before carrying out a full clean of the school.
Mr Kiddle added: “Friday also allows me to meet all staff individually to check on their well-being. During these unusual times this is more important than ever. There are still six members of staff who are not in school, either for health reasons or that their role is not needed at this moment. This might change in the future. I keep in contact with them too, giving an update each week.”
Mr Kiddle said he was also pleased to hear Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s latest announcement that other year groups would now not be expected to return to school before the summer break.
“In reality we would find this very difficult anyway,” he said.
“We have 51 children who could attend at the moment from the existing groups and our maximum safe operating number is 45, and therefore even without any new groups being added, we would have to begin to use a rota system. This is not supported in the guidance to schools. We are still waiting for further advice on this.”
Mr Kiddle continued: “At the end of week two, I want to share my gratitude and thanks to all the staff who have been in school and who make everything work for our children. These are still very unusual and different times and the changes in school have been on a scale none of us could ever imagine or ever predict.
“Everyone has been amazing; professional, calm and committed to providing the best they can for our children. Despite all the ongoing concerns and anxieties about COVID-19, they have done this with a sense of humour, laughter and in the kind and caring way that they always bring into our school.
“I am immensely proud and privileged to work with such a brilliant group of people and be the headteacher of St Michael’s.”