'Relieved but apprehensive': Midlands parents react as schools go back on March 8th

  • Report by Mark Gough

The Prime Minister has announced that all school children will return to the classrooms on March 8. That means all schools in the Midlands - primary, secondary and colleges - will reopen at the same time.

Government advice suggests that masks will now be have to be worn in classrooms, as well as corridors when the students go back. Secondary school and college students will need to be tested for Covid-19 twice every week, initially at schools, and then at home.

Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.

Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

One mother from Burton-upon-Trent, Nikki Webster, says she feels as if the announcement is a "mixed bag" but she's relieved nonetheless. Her daughter Isabelle is also nervous about going back.

Sian Smith also shares Nikki's relief and nerves, saying "I'm in two minds...but mostly I am relieved."

Headteachers across the region are getting ready for the return. They now face challenges about getting the children's education back up to speed. Julie Robinson, head of Soar Valley College in Leicester says some of her children have had a "disrupted learning experience."

The Principal of Bristnall Hall Academy in Oldbury says they are focusing their attention on how they can help those who may have fallen behind.

Kully Uppal from Bristnall Hall Academy wants to focus on students who may have struggled with remote learning. Credit: ITV News Central

We've had our students learning, all the way through remotely. They've been supported by our fantastic parents and carers. When they do return to us we've been able to, realistically, look at what it is that they need to work on further. But more importantly than that, have the advice and guidance here from the staff members that can hopefully make sure that any gaps are closed very quickly.

Kully Uppal, Headteacher Bristnall Hall Academy

Sheena Wheatley, from the National Education Union in Nottingham, is concerned about the way that the return is being organised. All children will come back at the same time in March, unlike the staggered approach last Summer.

"We saw what happened with the students didn't we," says Wheatley. "We're talking about 10 million people now returning to spaces which, you know, we can't call COVID secure."

She wants to see "real dialogue" and the government to "really following the data, rather than picking a date out of the air and saying it'll be fine by then."

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