Children have faced almost a full year of disruption to their learning throughout the pandemic and now they are going back to school again for hopefully a permanent return. Children returning to school is the first step of the roadmap out of lockdown on March 8.

We spoke to Principle Siân Dover at Oasis Academy Lister park who said: “It’s really important for us at the school to get the children back to learning and fully engage in a classroom. The important thing is to engage back into education but also to support the students with mental wellbeing and the emotional side of coming back from being out of the school. We have got a lot of activities in place to support the students for when they come back in socially and emotionally, as well as academically.”

Oasis Academy Lister Park have the student’s wellbeing at the heart of the schools return and are making sure they have all the support that they need. They are offering counselling and wellbeing packages for students who need it. Principle Dover said: “We care very much about the children and their families and it’s important that they feel safe and secure”

Principle Dover also discusses the great job that the parents have done over this lockdown and helping their children learn from home. She said: “Parents have done a great job as well under really difficult circumstances. To be able to keep their children learning while they are at home dealing with other things is an incredible sense of achievement, that all communities can feel proud of themselves for. It’s incredible how people have adapted.”

Principle Siân Dover is also a parent and said she is very “happy for her children to return to school” and that she has “every confidence that the schools have got themselves ready”. Dover said: “The feeling from parents is mainly positive, we do have a few parents who are feeling slightly nervous too”. The school will be supporting families as well as students wherever they can.

There will be a fazed return with year 11 and 13 returning on Monday and eventually everyone back to school by Friday. There will be support available for the students every step of the way and this will provide the students with a safe return into face to face learning.

Children will have to wear masks in classrooms as well as walking around the school which will come with its challenges, but Oasis Academy Lister park are prepared. Principle Dover said that the students know it’s for their own safety, as well as the safety of others and believes the students will be compliant with the new rules and regulations in helping to provide a safe environment.

The school is also introducing Rapid lateral flow testing twice a week, this is another way to ensure that everyone in the school is safe.

The Government have announced Rapid lateral flow testing for households and bubbles of school pupils and staff to help stop the spread of Coronavirus. Lateral flow device (LFD) testing is a fast and simple way to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but who may still be spreading the virus. The tests are easy to use and give results in 30 minutes. Those who test positive must immediately self-isolate to avoid passing the virus on to others. More info can be found on GOV.UK.

Like many other people Principal Dover is hoping that this is a permanent return to school for the children. She said: “I think children and young people need some stability and direction and routine that school can offer” Dover added: “We are hoping there won’t be another lockdown but that’s not for us to decide”  We spoke to Rahual whose daughter goes to St Mary’s & St Peter’s Catholic Primary School. Rahual said that he is “very happy” for his daughter to be returning to school and he is happy with the safety measures in place. He said they all stick to their bubbles and use sanitisers around the school. Rahual said: “My daughter is very happy to be back at school and see her friends”

Rahual also said he was pleased with the support he was given from the school during lockdown. He said his daughter had online work to do and the teachers would have a meeting with them every week to help and see how they are getting on.

Saiqa Kausar has two daughters that attend St Mary’s & St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, ages ten and seven. She said her daughters do not have to wear a face mask as they have asthma, but she is satisfied with the rules and regulations which are put into place to protect the children while in a learning environment.

Katie Edmondson has two children going back to school this week. Her son, 8, goes to Featherbank Primary school, and her daughter, 14, goes to Horsforth Secondary school. When asked if she is happy for her children to be returning to school, Katie said: “Of course I am.” Her son is going back on March 8 and her daughter is going back on March 10 and she said both schools have similar rules and regulations in place to keep the children as safe as possible. Katie said her daughter isn’t “best impressed” by having to wear a mask all of the time but it’s not a problem and she understands why.

Ben Nickelson, father of four said he is happy for his children to return to school however does not support all of the regulations. Ben said: “I don’t think its right to have them forced to wear a mask because kids are not known to spread the virus or be seriously ill from it.” Ben added: “I think if schools reopen then everything should”

There are more regulations in place for students now than the last time they were at school in December. As schools start to return on March 8, they may face challenges, but their main concern is the wellbeing and safety of students in a learning environment.