Schools come back to life again
The gates have reopened fully at Highfield & Brookham Schools – for the first time since December.
Like so many schools up and down the country, the classrooms and playing fields of our schools have been eerily quiet for the past three months, with no full-scale educational resumption since the Christmas holidays.
Only a smattering of boarders - including some international students - and nursery children kept the school flag flying through the national Covid lockdown.
But that all changed this week as the government finally gave the long-awaited official green light to school activity to resume in full on Monday for all year groups, and we duly swung back into life as pre-prep and prep school children rejoined the nursery cohort.
The subject of children being in school, and any potential viral transmissibility issues associated with that, has long been thoroughly debated by medical and scientific experts, and indeed government ministers, but the overwhelming feeling is that the coronavirus threat emanating from schools is really quite low.
So the upshot is a return to chatter, to noise, to the kind of vibrant and lively hum that can only be found in the school environment as excited children resume their near-normal lives with their friends and peers – and that was clearly the case at Highfield and Brookham as trepidation and uncertainty was replaced with relief and a palpable sense of excitement.
Once again, the playing fields and classrooms were filled with the familiar blue uniforms of the Highfield pupils and the brilliant red of the Brookham children, the teachers returned to their various classroom environments – albeit in Covid-secure bubbles complete with hand sanitiser and face masks aplenty – and life in general, as much as it can as we edge slowly out of restrictive national measures, has, and whisper it quietly, a welcome feel of normality about it.
Highfield headmaster Phillip Evitt said:
It’s definitely been a long time coming but we finally have our children back and our schools and our teachers are back doing what they do best – giving our pupils the very best education that we possibly can.
Following governmental guidelines, Year 7 and Year 8 pupils at Highfield School are being tested three times at school before continuing with home tests, while teachers and school staff are also part of a regular testing programme to keep everyone safe.
Mr Evitt added: “These are strange times but the return of noise, laughter, chatter and learning is a very welcome sound that we have all missed badly. Our children are the heartbeat of our school and we hope, after such a long and worrying time away, that we can stay open now for good.”