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MELKSHAM’S schools are welcoming back their students this week – and schools have reassured families that they have worked hard to minimise the risk to staff and students from coronavirus.
Social distancing, enhanced cleaning routines, teacher training, and detailed risk assessments are just some of the measures that have been put in place in all eight White Horse Federation managed schools, which includes Melksham Oak Community School and seven of the town’s primary schools.
However, despite the reassurance, some parents and students remain anxious about the reopening of schools.
Local mother Amy Brown said, “I have two sons who are at school age – one 5, one 10. My 10 year old is very eager to go back, but my 5 year old has said he’s never going back until they cure corona.
“I think the kids are just as anxious as the adults and I’m hoping they settle back into school life without the worry of becoming ill.”
And some parents are confused about the guidance for wearing face coverings in schools after the government’s U-turn last week, which announced that pupils will have to wear face coverings in school corridors in local lockdown areas of England. Secondary headteachers also have the flexibility to implement face covering if they wish.
One parent told Melksham News that a White Horse Federation online question and answer session last week explained that primary age children will also need to wear masks in the playground and at home time – keeping masks in a zip-up bag when inside the school.
When approached for clarification, a spokesperson for the White Horse Federation told Melksham News, “I can confirm that: while masks are not mandatory, it is strongly recommended that students wear face masks when entering and departing school each day.”
About the measures taken to prepare Melksham Oak Community School, a spokesperson said, “With schools expected to reopen in September, plans for how to resume school life as much as possible, while also minimising the risks for staff, pupils, and their families, have been ongoing across The White Horse Federation.
“At Melksham Oak, like every other White Horse Federation school in the area, we have undertaken the following measures: We have created a return to work plan which details risk assessments, processes, procedures, and systems in place from day one.
“Staff in schools will model the behaviours we want to see in our pupils and students, sticking to social distancing and self-hygiene regimes set by the school.
“Having enhanced cleaning routines over the summer, site staff have ensured that every space in our school will have undergone a thorough clean in readiness for the return of pupils and staff.
“Every staff member who might have underlying health issues, be pregnant, or who are part of our BAME community will be individually assessed. We will also support any parent who believes their child to be vulnerable in any way.
“In addition, we will be holding teacher training days before any pupils return to school. During these days, all new policies and measures will be demonstrated and made clear to staff.
“At Melksham Oak, we will also be providing more detailed information later this week, and Alan Henderson will be sending out a explanatory video early next week (week commencing 31st August) before students return to school.
“While we cannot eliminate every risk, we have worked hard to minimise it as much as possible. With this in mind, it is important that every child returns to school from the first day of the new term in September ready to learn.”
Principal at The Manor Primary School, Hannah Gordon added, “We are sending out a school tour video to show the changes that have be made to help prepare the children. Teachers have also done the same for their classrooms and these are being posted for parents to share with their children.
“We are also sending home a practical guide for parents to help them prepare their children. It includes ideas such as walking the route to school before returning, to help prepare children.”
White Horse Federation manages Melksham Oak Community School, Seend Primary School, Bowerhill Primary School, St Mary’s in Broughton Gifford, Shaw Primary School, St. George’s Primary School, The Manor Primary School, Forest and Sandridge Primary School.