Published: 17:13, 07 September 2020
| Updated: 09:03, 09 September 2020
There were a few teary eyes as parents dropped off their little ones for their first day at a brand new primary school.
Springhead Park Primary School opened its doors to nursery and reception age children for the first time in Ebbsfleet Valley today.
Building contractors Kier managed to complete the facility on time despite a host of barriers, such as reduced workforce and supply chain issues, presented by Covid-19.
It meant 130 children aged between three and five were able to attend their first day at the new look school near Northfleet and many for the first time since lockdown.
Principal Wayne Clayton welcomed the new cohort as they met up with their future classmates and teachers.
He was also on hand to field queries from and reassure any worried parents.
The headteacher explained a great deal of planning had gone into making the building and school environment safe for pupils in the wake of the coronavirus.
"It has been a huge team effort to get here," he said, adding they had observed practice elsewhere and adopted two main strategies to combat any potential spread of the disease.
This included keeping classes or "bubbles" to no more than 25 pupils with social distancing in place as well as additional hygiene measures to ensure children are consistently washing their hands.
There is also built-in ventilation throughout the building to ensure it is consistently aired.
The headteacher was keen to stress these measures would not detract from the first class teaching experience they are aiming to provide.
Principal Clayton explained teachers would not be wearing masks, adding "it is really important that relationships drive everything".
"For us it is a balancing act – ensuring children's emotional wellbeing as well as taking physical safety precautions."
Mum Steph Manning, 29, attended this morning to drop off her three-year-old daughter Isla for her first day of nursery.
She said: "It is horrible leaving her but she likes it here. The school have been very good trying to put on events and invited us to the crane lift ."
"I'll probably go home and have a little cry now."
The new build at Springhead Park will eventually provide space for 420 pupils between the ages of 4 and 11.
Lockdown proved a busy period for the school as it successful completed a pre-opening virtual Ofsted inspection and recruited five new teachers.
The multi-academy trust says it will provide an experiential and thematic curriculum which will allow every child to follow their individual talents and interests.
Elsewhere, the Ebbsfleet Academy, near Swanscombe, has been ramping up its Covid-19 measures to protect returning pupils.
This involved redesigning the building’s layout to implement a one-way system to allow for social distancing, carrying out deep cleans and installing additional sanitation stations.