AFTER six months of closure, schools across Warrington are working hard to ensure children are kept safe as they make the vital move back into the classroom.

But behind the now-normal sights of face masks, hand sanitiser and deep cleaning, school staff have been making all kinds of subtle changes to ensure pupils stay happy and motivated during these unprecedented times.

One such school is Beamont Collegiate Academy, part of The Challenge Academy Trust (TCAT).

Gareth Harris, principal, said he wanted the school to have all the necessary measures in place, while making sure pupils’ school life was as close to normal as possible.

Warrington Guardian:

He explained: “We’ve divided the building into five zones and each year group has allocated rooms in these zones.

“At the start of the day we have introduced a staggered start.

“We have hand sanitiser around the school and every classroom is equipped with a hygiene pack.

“In years seven, eight and nine, the students stay in the same classes but in years 10 and 11 where they have chosen their options, that’s not possible, but they still stay in their year group bubble.

Warrington Guardian:

“Every year group also has an allocated part of the school for lunch.

“We’ve issued clear guidance to students and parents about use and storage of masks while onsite.

“Our expectation is that all staff and students will where them in communal areas such as corridors and social areas.

“Students and staff are also free to continue to wear them in lessons should they wish to do so.”

Gareth added that all the school staff had been working incredibly hard during lockdown and since the return to school.

Maisie Jeffers, a year nine pupil, said: “It’s been different because we’ve been in our form groups but it feels more like normal now.

“I was excited to come back - it felt like we’d never left!”

Warrington Guardian:

Alongside the coronavirus safety measures, the school even keeps track of seating plans in classes in case of a positive coronavirus test result, to identify who has been in close contact with the individual.

There is also an isolation room with PPE for staff if a pupils starts having symptoms at school.

Staff who need to isolate can carry out their lessons over a video link, and more disadvantaged students have been supplied with the right equipment.

But Gareth wanted to ensure the mental health of pupils and staff was cared for too.

Warrington Guardian:

“We have put in place well-being sessions as part of the curriculum,” he said.

“I didn’t want pupils to come back to school after lockdown and put on one big well-being event - we wanted to give them daily small doses of well-being and reflection.

Teachers also have a dedicated well-being period.