Mark Cottingham, principal of Shirebrook Academy, described seeing teaching taking place again as ‘a welcome sight’ after its full complement of 850 students returned to school this week.
It was the first time more than 100 pupils have been in the school together since the Government imposed a third lockdown at the beginning of the year, with everybody being offered a coronavirus test before they were allowed back into lessons and asked to observe social distancing measures.
Mr Cottingham said that this week’s testing has gone smoothly – there have been no positive results for Covid-19 – but he said there is still a long way for the academy to go before things return to how they were, with many lessons, extra-curricular activities, school trips and community events still firmly off the agenda.
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He said: “It was such a welcome sight to see students back so that we can rebuild the school community, find out how much they have learnt over the last few weeks and put everything in place for our Year 11s’ assessments, which will take place between now and June.
“The testing has gone extremely smoothly and we will take another step back towards normality when we stop having to administer the tests in school next week, but it will probably still be very many months until the school is properly back up and running.
“It’s incredible to think about all the activities we do that are still not possible, or the fact that our PE provision is limited, we can’t do science practicals and it’s unlikely that we will be having a leaver’s event this year.
“In that respect, there is a sense that this is just the beginning of the end and there is still a lot of uncertainty about when everything else we do can return.”
All pupils will be given three tests at school before being issued with their own testing kits to take home next week.