Bubbles, hand washing stations and one-way systems - how County Durham schools are managing as pupils return

A generic PA picture as schools around the country cope with pupils returning in the 'new normal' coronavirus world.A generic PA picture as schools around the country cope with pupils returning in the 'new normal' coronavirus world.
A generic PA picture as schools around the country cope with pupils returning in the 'new normal' coronavirus world.
One-way systems, hand washing facilities and ‘bubbles’ are some of the measures that will be put in place as County Durham pupils return to schools.

Youngsters across England are set to return to classrooms after schools were closed to the majority of students in March in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.

As school leaders prepare to welcome students back, Durham County Council has insisted support is in place to manage the process.

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The authority has been advising schools to put measures in place to minimise the risk of infection, following government guidance.

This ranges from risk assessments and organising children in ‘bubbles’ (consistent groups) throughout the school day to one-way systems, minimising movement and hand washing facilities.

Some ‘school specific changes’ will also be brought in including staggered lunchtimes and breaks or starts and ends of the day.

Richard Crane, Durham County Council’s head of education and skills, said: “We are supporting and advising county schools as they continue their preparations to welcome back students next month.

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“We have worked to produce easy to read guidance for schools, linked to government guidance and where possible we have also provided templates for schools to use with parents regarding attendance and notifications related to coronavirus.

“Our public health team has also produced toolkits for schools to use in the event of suspected and positive cases of coronavirus occurring among staff or pupils.”

The education chief added: “We’re grateful for the efforts of headteachers and governing bodies in planning carefully to balance the safety of everyone in their school with the need to establish strong routines and expectations, alongside effective support to enable learning to take place.”

The council’s website states all students over the age of five will return to school in September – unless they need to self-isolate.

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Parents are advised to check individual school websites or contact schools directly for changes about timings to the day, classroom layouts and other specific concerns.

This week, ministers confirmed that pupils at secondary schools in ‘local lockdown’ areas will have to wear face coverings in school corridors – however this does not currently apply to County Durham.

For more information and advice on returning to school, visit: www.durham.gov.uk/article/23337/Returning-to-school-in-September

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