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West Berkshire headteacher urges parents to follow coronavirus restrictions

Thatcham Park head looking forward to smiles as pupils fully return to school

A WEST Berkshire headteacher has pleaded with parents across the district to keep following coronavirus restrictions when children fully return to school next week.

Headteacher at Thatcham Park Primary School Alison Webster told a local outbreak engagement board meeting on Monday that children’s wellbeing and socialisation was a priority.

Mrs Webster said that staff “just want them all back” and “were looking forward to those big smiles on Monday morning”.

Mrs Webster advised parents to talk to children about their feelings on going back to school and their worries, but also to reassure them and ask what they were excited about.

Having a routine to ease back into school life would also be important, she said.

She asked parents across the district to keep following the rules for the benefit of children and the community.

“While we are excited to welcome all the children back, our future journey very much relies upon everything remaining on track, which means we must all continue to follow the rules and guidance set out by the Government,” she said. “We must not be complacent or demob happy.”

Mrs Webster added that although the district’s rate per 100,000 population had fallen below 100, this was not as low as the 50 recorded in November.

She said: “It needs vigilance all round and that’s my biggest plea to our parents, our families and community is to stick to rules around social distancing and mixing.

“It’s all too easy to think that if the children are in a bubble together in school, why can’t they outside of school as well?

“However, these choices will not support our collective effort to overcome this virus.”

Mrs Webster said that access to the vaccine for staff would be crucial to ensure no further disruption to education.

However, she said she did not feel comfortable with teachers being prioritised for vaccinations.

She said: “My staff are all waiting for their call and their letter as soon as we can, but I don’t think I can support jumping the queue, given that if we jump the queue it means there’s a more vulnerable group that would go without, and I’m not sure if that sits comfortably for myself personally.

“My time will come.”

New guidance for primary schools includes adults wearing face coverings in communal areas or where social distancing could not be upheld.

Mrs Webster said it was reassuring that the only change implemented nationally was something that Thatcham Park had implemented in January.

“We put this in place because we had an outbreak in December necessitating us to close the school three days before the end of term,” she said.

She added that she had been pleased that the Government honoured its two-week notice period and that guidance documents had been published on the same day as the change in plans.

Mrs Webster said that children at Thatcham Park had missed 60 per cent of the past year, March to February, amounting to 30 per cent in the last two academic years.

She said that some children had been invited back part-time this week to support a smooth transition back to school.

“We know that some of them will find it quite challenging to return to school as it’s been a long time,” she said.

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