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Inside St Katherine's Primary School in Snodland as it reopens with social distancing

A primary school's playing field has been divided up using hazard tape and there are now three separate entrances marked with colourful footprints, as it welcomes pupils back.

Teachers at St Katherine's Primary School in Snodland have been working hard to make sure pupils, parents and staff feel safe about classrooms reopening.

Headteacher Ruth Powell says preparation has been key and even did a practise day to highlight any issues with the new system before pupils returned.

"Very strict" protocols have been put in place, which are followed by everyone.

Arrival and pick-up times have been staggered to minimise crowding outside the gates and there are three separate entrances marked with colourful footprints to reduce the risk of contact.

Children can only mix with pupils and teachers in their class, and have different areas of the playing field to use during break time, separated by hazard tape.

There are now 10 desks per classroom instead of 15, with just one pupil per table. Everyone has their own personal stationery kept in a plastic bag and everything is cleaned at the end of the day.

The playing field has been divided into sections for each class
The playing field has been divided into sections for each class
There are now 10 tables in each classroom, and one pupil sits at each
There are now 10 tables in each classroom, and one pupil sits at each

If teachers need to be in close proximity to a student for a particular tasks, they will wear gloves, masks or visors.

Parents are asked to check children's temperatures before they leave and to bring in as little as possible, and the swimming pool changing rooms are being used as emergency isolation rooms for anyone who feels ill during the day.

If this does happen, all children from that classroom will be taken out, parents informed and a deep clean carried out of the area.

Mrs Powell said: "Originally it was worrying because there are a lot of people relying on you to get it right, keep everyone safe and make sure we're not putting anyone at risk.

"But once we had gone through plans, written and re-written risk assessment and walked the site a number of times and really importantly, just before the half term, had a practice day without the children where we could iron out any slight issues to make sure everyone felt comfortable coming in, today, it was absolutely fine."

The swimming pool changing rooms will now been used to isolate pupils if they fall unwell
The swimming pool changing rooms will now been used to isolate pupils if they fall unwell
Headteacher Ruth Powell
Headteacher Ruth Powell

The St Katherine's Lane primary has been open for children of key workers throughout lockdown, including during school holidays, but is now also looking after Reception and Year 1 and 6 pupils.

Around 50% of those allowed back according to government advice have returned to school.

The remaining pupils are still being provided with learning materials via the school website.

Mrs Powell said: "When the gates opened this morning, it was lovely to see everyone's smiley faces, and actually, it's been really positive. Our parents have been really supportive.

"There have been a few nerves but no tears at all. They are all very excited about looking at their new classrooms because many of the children aren't in their normal classroom, finding out their outdoor space and are excited to meet some new teachers."

Children have their own bag of stationery
Children have their own bag of stationery
Each classroom is stocked with cleaning products
Each classroom is stocked with cleaning products

Year 6 pupil Verity said: "I'm so happy to be back at school, it is nice to be with some of my friends and my teacher."

Olivia, also in Year 6, added: "I was nervous about social distancing in the morning but was happier when I got back to school." But she does wish "things could go back to normal sooner."

Although St Katherine's has managed to figure out a way to make social distancing work, Mrs Powell thinks less experienced teachers may have benefited from more guidance from the government.

She said: "I think at times the guidance has been a bit unclear and giving mixed messages, which might be hard for younger heads. But we have been able to take the advice and built on it."

Footprints guide pupils through each new entrance way
Footprints guide pupils through each new entrance way

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