Headteacher looks forward to the new year with optimism despite adaptations for Covid

School heads across Shropshire are relieved to be welcoming pupils back to the classrooms this week after fears that online learning could return failed to materialise.

Headteacher Sue Lovecy of St Martins School
Headteacher Sue Lovecy of St Martins School

Many secondary schools put staggered returns in place to ensure the student could have their supervised, lateral flow tests, on the campus before going into the classroom.

The teenagers will once again have to get used to wearing masks at their desks, the major change in the Government restrictions at the start of the spring term.

But, while schools could never have envisaged another year of Covid restrictions, there was an optimism as the term got under way.

Sue Lovecy, the head of the St Martins All Age School in St Martins near Oswestry said last term had been the most stressful in her career of around 30 years.

"The stress that working through a Covid pandemic has put on the staff is unbelievable but we got through it as a superb team," she said.

"We made a conscious move back to mask-wearing for our secondary pupils before Christmas when we saw Covid numbers rising again and so that won't be any different for them returning to school this week. I do believe it made a difference in keeping numbers having the virus down.

"The benefits of wearing the masks far, far outweigh the alternatives of pupils having to isolate or returning to online learning."

Mrs Lovecy said that while the 450 secondary school pupils would be wearing masks the 200 primary children would not be.

"Staff do but the children have got used to that."

Speaking on Monday as the school was making the final preparations for the return she said she was aware of just two members of staff having to isolate.

"We can manage that and we have a lot of contingency plans in place for various scenarios.

"What is vital is that we deliver education as normally as we can and ensure the pupils are given the pastoral care that they need.

"Children of all ages have really suffered by not having social contact with other children. I fear that we will find that the impact of the pandemic will be with our children for years, and not just the little ones."

"We are really concentrating on pastoral care and dealing with the anxiety levels of both students and their parents."

"Last term was the hardest of my career, trying to deliver something normal under the Covid pressures.

"But we are really hopeful about 2022 and we do hope that we can stay open delivering something as close to normal eduction as we can."

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