CLASSROOMS and playgrounds across West Tyrone are set to become a hive of activity once again as schools open their doors for the first time since March.
The majority of primary schools will reopen their doors to primary seven students on Monday, while all other pupils will begin the new school year on the week beginning August 31.
Schools will reopen with a host of new safety measures introduced in an attempt to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Announcing the guidelines, Education Minister Peter Weir said strict distancing between children may be relaxed in the presence of other mitigations such as hygiene measures.
He also said the current distancing guidance of two metres must continue to be followed between adults in schools, while face coverings are acceptable but not recommended for routine use.
Jill Funston, principal of Omagh County Primary School, is looking forward to welcoming children back into school.
Ms Funston said, “We have been able to maintain contact during lockdown via phone and email. So we have been able to check in on the pupils, but it will be really great to see them all face to face again next week.
“We have been issued guidance from the Education Authority and we shall be following this guidance closely, including staggered start and finish times.
“The school has also been zoned to minimise contact between staff and pupils and all classrooms have been equipped with sanitising stations, soap and PPE if required.
“An isolation room has been identified should a child become sick during the school day.
“Staff have planned to teach the pupils all the necessary skills of social distancing and good hand hygiene in the early days.
“The list is endless,” stated Ms Funston.
Anyone displaying any Covid-19 symptoms must not attend school, while primary school children will return to full time education with a ‘protective bubble’ strategy implemented as a key mitigating action.
A class will act as a single consistent group or bubble, with minimal prolonged interaction with other classes within the school.
The Department also advises that social distancing within classes should be maximised based on physical capacity.