Shropshire pupils pleased to be returning to their classrooms

Pupils returned to schools across Shropshire and Mid Wales this week pleased not to be facing another round of online learning.

Year 7 design and technology students at Shrewsbury Academy
Year 7 design and technology students at Shrewsbury Academy

With fears of tough, post-Christmas restrictions banished, students arrived to the now routine lateral flow tests before being able to rejoin their friends in the classroom.

Heads said there was a new optimism looking to 2022.

Sarah Finch, the chief executive of the Marches Academy Trust, which has 10 schools across the region, said heads had been pleased with the low number of positive results among pupils.

"We also have very few staff absences and the return to school has been a very positive experience," she said.

Shrewsbury Academy students return to the classroom
Staff at Shrewsbury Academy ensure touch points are clean
The Year 7 IT class at Shrewbury Academy

"The students are pleased to be back and meeting up with their friends again. We carried out a survey among our children and they say they love being in school and miss the social aspect. Of course there are those that are anxious and that goes for parents and families as well. So our pastoral role is very important."

She said the testing was now carried out like a military operation.

"One of our schools did the testing a little differently this time which has worked well and so we will be looking at that as best practice in future."

"The secondary students have also responded well to wearing masks in class They continue to be very resilient.

"There is a lot of optimism looking ahead to a better 2022."

Shrewsbury Academy
Shrewsbury Academy

Andy McNaughton, head of the Charlton School, in Wellington, said: "The process is a little all too familiar and running very smoothly. Students attend school prior to starting back for a test, as long as this is negative they return to school the next day.

"We tested the whole school within two days, with all students back in normal lessons by Thursday. We will provide students with another set of home test kits on Friday and will continue to encourage them to test twice weekly.

"Staffing absence levels are manageable at present but obviously we are concerned. If the Omicron variant spreads within school as much as it appears to have done in the general population, we are formulating contingency plans to cope with the impact of any increase in staff absence.

"We are committed to continue to provide a wide range offer of activities both within and outside of our curriculum and will do all we can to ensure the education of our students is impacted as little as possible."

Year 8 students at St Martin's School
Year 8 students at St Martin's School

At the all-age school in St Martins, Oswestry, there were different pathways for the primary children to the secondary pupils.

Headteacher Sue Lovecy said: "Our primary children do not wear masks although their teachers do. But they have become used to that."

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