Back to school at last

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It was back to school this week for pupils across Arran after almost five months away from classes.

All schools and early years centres on the island reopened to pupils on Wednesday, with some youngsters starting lessons for the first time.

There was a real feeling of things getting back to normal with children and their parents on the streets of the villages this week and school buses darting to and fro.

However, as the schools return, education chiefs in North Ayrshire say everyone must remember that the virus has not gone away, despite the fact that there continues to be no new cases on Arran. There are increased hygiene measures across all schools and early years centres, including hand sanitiser throughout the premises and more handwashing encouraged.

Children at Arran’s seven primary schools do not need to physically distance, but teachers will try to limit interactions between groups where possible. Older pupils at Arran High School are being encouraged to maintain distancing where possible.

Face masks will only have to be worn by staff who cannot effectively social distance, however, anyone who wishes to wear one will be allowed to do so.

School buses are treated as part of the school building, so normal distancing or face covering rules do not apply to pupils, but they will have to sanitise their hands prior to boarding.

There was a relaxed atmosphere at Lamlash Primary School on Wednesday, where the Banner was invited to see pupils returning. All of the children seemed happy to be back at school and so were the parents. Even the new primary 1 starts seemed pleased to see their new surroundings.

The children were welcomed by the Arran Campus acting headteacher Mrs Susan Foster who said: ‘It is just great to see everyone back.’

Councillor John Bell, cabinet member for education at North Ayrshire Council, said: ‘Life is not going back to normal yet but we are pleased to have our young people back to school. Our aim is to help the children re-adjust to school life, support their wellbeing and have a clear focus on learning.

‘We fully understand we must not be complacent – the safety and wellbeing of our young people, teachers and staff is our main priority. Together we must continue to focus on keeping virus transmissions levels low. We ask parents and carers not to send their child to school if they have Covid-19 symptoms.’