'To have smiling pupils back is fantastic': Children return to school

Children apply hand sanitiser. Credit: PA

Despite first-day nerves for parents and children, one primary school has welcomed back “a sea of smiling” faces, all happy to be reunited with friends.

Youngsters at Charles Dickens Primary School in Southwark, south London, returned to class on Tuesday, with a range of measures in place, including staggered start times and segregated lunch breaks.

The school’s headteacher said that, although some parents were nervous, many were pleased to have their children back in education, after months of them being at home.

Mother Odetta Patterson, from Southwark, who has two children aged four and six, told the PA news agency: “I was quite worried, to be honest, particularly about them potentially catching Covid and having to isolate, so I wasn’t going to send them at first.

Measures have been put in place for the safety of children. Credit: PA

“But I asked their father this morning and asked him if it was a good idea, because we really didn’t know how it would be, and he said go for it, send them in.

“And now they’re in I feel quite safe, the school have done a great job and it’s for the best. My eldest has missed his friends since March and wanted to go back.”

Another mother, Jordan Cullen, 29, from Bermondsey, said: “I’m ready, they’re ready and they’re looking forward to it.

“I think my kids know to keep their distance, wash their hands and be sensible so I think they’ll be absolutely fine.

“You can’t scare the kids, I’ve tried to make them feel it’s a normal day in school, they’re still kids at the end of the day.

“I had no concerns, the school has coped with it really well. It was a bit chaotic this morning, but everyone needs to get used to it.”

Children have returned to school. Credit: PA

Headteacher Cassie Buchanan said: “It’s brilliant to have the children back.

“I think after months and months of preparation to actually have the children back in the building and to see all their smiling faces has been fantastic.”

She added: “I think the children, before they came, were feeling a real mix of emotions, just like the adults, from nerves to excitement to maybe a little bit worried.

“But now they’ve been back in the classrooms, we’ve walked around this morning and seen just a sea of smiling faces I think everyone’s just so pleased to be back with their friends.”