Staggered school drop-offs reassure Much Wenlock parents

One primary school's comprehensive approach to welcoming back more children this week was commended by parents.

Much Wenlock Primary School has introduced staggered drop-off and pick-up times to make social distancing easier, after the government announced a relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown.

Year Six pupils are allowed in first, from 8.45am to 9am. Then Reception and Year One pupils are allowed in for the next 10 minute period, with Nursery classes allowed in the following 10 minutes.

The schedules are reversed at home time.

Queues are in place around most of the school building and classes are spread out.

Headteacher Carl Litchfield, who was on hand outside the school to welcome the pupils returning this week, said about half of the school's 210 pupils had returned.

A number of parents coming to drop their children off were full of praise for a video that the school produced, including a tour of the school and demonstrating where to queue.

Several said it made them more confident and reassured returning their children to school.

Some of the signs at the school entrance

Duncan Davies is a nurse practitioner who lives in Much Wenlock, whose daughter Eva rejoined her Year Six class this week.

He and his partner, both key workers, look after Eva and her two sisters in shifts and have a dedicated area at home to undress and wash any potentially contaminated work clothes.

"They are at risk everywhere, not just at school," he said. "We are more at risk going to work, probably.

"We have managed that risk since March... we can't keep them at home for the rest of the summer.

"They understand the importance of washing hands and social distancing."

He said the way the school had reacted to the lockdown was "brilliant", with regular communication with parents and work posted online on the Seesaw platform.

Jadie Allden travels from nearby Cressage with her children Imogen, seven, Toby, five, and Harry, one. Toby came back to school this week.

"He was really excited, looking forward to seeing his friends again. We left the decision up to him.

"He watched the video about three times."

Jadie said that Harry had a "super" day on Monday despite the restrictions and is excited to have his own desk as classrooms are spread apart.

"The school have been brilliant. They have kept everyone informed since day one and left everything up to the parents."

'The school has filled us with confidence'

Suzanne Burton is a carer who came to drop off her six-year-old son Isaac, with his younger brother Freddie in tow.

She said that she had been apprehensive at first but that the "wonderful" video had given her more confidence.

"The school has filled us with confidence, I'm not worried when I'm at home.

"I think there are only about five in [Isaac's] group.

"Life has been very stressful. Their dad has been working as well.

"We just adjust to it, it will be the way of life for a long time."

Hayley Dunn, who herself works for the Association of School and College Leaders, took her daughter Sophie back to nursery class this week.

"What helped was having the video. Sophie was able to see exactly what it would look like.

"She was so excited to come back, the routine."

She said that the method of staggered drop-offs, usually by parents in cars, worked well in a "semi-rural" setting but might not be suitable for a busier inner-city area.

Meanwhile Mr Litchfield said the new system had been even more successful than expected.

"We have been very open with parents... there is no pressure to bring your child in this week. It is a hard decision.

"I think the staff have been brilliant throughout the whole period. Within a few months we have gone from teaching normally to lockdown, teaching online.

"All the staff have stepped up, they have been brilliant."

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