Jumping for joy! Thousands of youngsters return as schools finally reopen
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Jumping for joy! Thousands of youngsters return as schools finally reopen

Pupils at Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in Radlett were welcomed back with a colourful balloon arch as students returned to the classroom for the first time in two months

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

Pupils at Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in Radlett were welcomed back with a colourful balloon arch as students returned to the classroom for the first time in two months. Pictured are Year 1 students Ella Starkowitz, Zack Wolfisz, Sophie Hall and Ethan Goodman with headteacher Rita Alak-Levi. Credit: Claire Jonas Photography
Pupils at Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in Radlett were welcomed back with a colourful balloon arch as students returned to the classroom for the first time in two months. Pictured are Year 1 students Ella Starkowitz, Zack Wolfisz, Sophie Hall and Ethan Goodman with headteacher Rita Alak-Levi. Credit: Claire Jonas Photography

Thousands of Jewish pupils returned to schools across the country as the first tentative steps were taken on the government roadmap out of lockdown.

After two months of home learning, youngsters finally bounded away from their parents and through the school gates on Monday morning.

Among them were nearly 500 pupils at Hertsmere Jewish Primary School in Radlett this morning, who were welcomed back with a colourful balloon arch and helium letter balloons spelling out the school’s initials.

They were donated by PrtyPrk, a Camden-based company which provides bespoke party decorations.

Adam Pratten-Stone, vice-chair of the HJPS PTA, said: “We really wanted to give a special welcome back to our school community and spread some cheer with these beautiful balloons.”

HJPS headteacher Rita Alak-Levi said: “Everyone is delighted to be back at school.  Although our remote learning provision during lockdown went very well, we are delighted to see all our children.  Not only did our pupils have happy and smiling faces this morning, so did their parents.

“The balloon arch was a lovely gesture to help welcome back our pupils and staff.”

Visits to care homes are also resuming from today, under strictly controlled conditions, while individuals are now allowed to leave home to meet one other person outdoors for a coffee or picnic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that although it is “only a small relaxation of the rules”, the changes will bring “joy and relief” to families after months of “tough restrictions”.

One scientist advising the Government acknowledged it is “inevitable” there will be an increase in the numbers of cases as schools go back.

Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said a small rise in the R number – representing the reproduction rate of the virus – is less important than the absolute numbers being admitted to hospital and intensive care.

Ministers believe the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccinations should break the link between case numbers and hospital admissions and deaths as more and more people are protected from the disease.

Prof Semple said schools are “absolutely” safe for children to return to as surveys showed that even secondary school pupils are far less likely to contract the disease or transmit it than adults.

“The main driver is not the pupil-teacher relationship,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“When we talk about schools, it is the fact that the school brings adults together, whether that’s teaching staff, the domestic staff, the catering staff, and it’s an opportunity for mixing.”

He said the advice for teachers is to wear face masks, while being “really careful” in the common room.

“Their colleagues are more of a risk to them than the children,” he said.

The reopening of schools comes amid warnings by education experts that more damage was being done to pupils by keeping them at home than having them return to the classroom.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he is looking at proposals, including a five-term academic year, a shorter summer holiday and longer school days to help pupils catch up on learning lost during the pandemic.

Meanwhile secondary school pupils, who are likely to have their return staggered over the week to allow for mass testing, are being asked to take three voluntary Covid-19 tests on site and one at home over the first fortnight. They will then be sent home-testing kits to use twice weekly.

The Department for Education (DfE) is also advising secondary school students to wear face coverings wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, including in the classroom.

But primary school children are not being asked to carry out Covid-19 tests or wear face masks on their return.

PrtyPrk is offering readers 10% off all products by quoting ‘Hertsmere’ on ordering. Offer valid until May 2021, www.PrtyPrk.com

 

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