/Life in a Cardiff primary school on the first day back after lockdown

Life in a Cardiff primary school on the first day back after lockdown

Pupils and teachers in Millbank Primary School, Ely, have said it’s “lovely” to be back, if a little different from normal.

They were among thousands of children who returned to school today, many for the first time since March.

Parents of pupils at Millbank said their children were awake very early this morning, excited about returning to classes.

While the teachers weren’t wearing facemasks, some pupils were, and protective equipment was on hand in every classroom for if a teacher needed to help a child with first aid.

Hand sanitiser and cleaning stations have also been placed throughout the school, with several at the entrance. Cleaners are cleaning everything in the building much more frequently, and toys are getting washed overnight.

Karen Brown, headteacher, said “It’s really exciting to welcome the children in. They were really happy to be back. We did wonder if a few of the children would be anxious, but there weren’t any tears at all.”

The lessons today focused on feelings and wellbeing, including lego therapy and how the pupils felt about coming back to school and what they had been doing during the lockdown.

Each pupil will go into school one day a week for the next three weeks. About a quarter of the pupils who were asked to go in today stayed at home, most from families with someone shielding.

Staff at Cardiff’s Millbank Primary have been busy getting it ready to welcome children ahead of the re-opening on June 29

Sophia Follet, eight, said: “It’s just like normal but a little bit different. It’s quite fun. It’s quiet, not having a lot of people in school, because now they just have a few people in the classes. It’s really nice being back and seeing my friends.”

Joe, 11, said: “It’s nice to see kids again, rather than be stuck in my house with my mum and dad.”

Some teaching assistants are also shielding, but they’re working from home and giving individual tutoring and helping with online learning.

Each class comes into and leaves the school at staggered times, to help pupils keep a safe distance. The street outside the school is also closed, to help parents keep a safe distance when collecting their children.

Pupils have been taking part in socially distanced lessons
(Image: Richard Swingler)

Pupils in years four, five and six are sat on separate desks, facing the front of the classroom; while those in years one, two and three are sat in groups of four, facing each other but still staying a safe distance apart.

Year six will have a reunion party in a few months time, and the school will get all the pupils back in to give them a proper send off and catch up, when it’s safer to do so.

Ms Brown said: “It’s way safer taking children to school than to the beach or the shops. Nowhere will be totally risk free, until the virus is eliminated. But with all the procedures in place, I think we’ve made it as safe as we possibly can.”

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