Schools in the East face financial pressure after spending thousands on making classrooms Covid-safe

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Schools in the East are already facing financial pressures just half a term into the academic year.

Many have spent thousands making classrooms coronavirus-safe. Now, there's fears the government's Covid-19 catch up fund won't be enough to cover the mounting costs of keeping schools safe.

At Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market, they've had to get creative to be cost-effective.

The school's one-way system is marked out by the children's artwork.

The students' artwork helps to mark out the one-way system Credit: ITV News Anglia

They've even bought a tap dance floor to expand the number of areas to serve lunch in.

Who would've believed that we would have needed to buy a tap dance floor, but it allows us to expand the number of areas that we can serve lunch in, because it creates a surface that we can wipe clean and we protect the carpet from all the baked beans, peas and all the other things that might be dropped.

Matthew Try, Headteacher, Hillcrest Primary School
The tap dance floor allows more space for serving lunch Credit: ITV News Anglia

The school's latest purchase is three hundred pounds worth of wood chip to make new paths for social distancing.

Portable heaters have also replaced the recycled air heating system.

The school's spent hundreds of pounds on wood chip to create socially-distanced paths Credit: ITV News Anglia

Even lunchtime is eating into the budget at Hillcrest Primary. It used to take an hour, and now it takes three and a half.

Due to social distancing regulations, the children can't eat at the same time anymore. It means the school is now having to pay lunchtime staff overtime, and it's costing seven and a half thousand pounds a year.

Schools have had to adjust to new social distancing rules Credit: ITV News Anglia

Some schools are also losing out on income from hiring out their halls.

Lynda used to run French lessons at a school in Cambridgeshire on Saturdays. Now, the classes are online.

Lynda used to use school facilities to teach French classes, but now she does it online Credit: ITV News Anglia

It's a change adding to the challenge for teachers.

Schools are facing an enormous shortfall in terms of funding and are facing the challenge of re-directing funding that was really put in place for learners and re-directing that funding towards making provision for covid restrictions.

Ruth Davies, President, National Association of Head Teachers

The government's launched a 1-billion-pound covid catch up fund and says schools can claim for exceptional costs incurred during lockdown earlier this year. However, schools like Hillcrest are still waiting to recoup those costs.