IT will be a strange experience for the thousands of rural primary school pupils throughout West Tyrone who will be returning to their classrooms on Monday for the first time in almost six months.
At St Oliver Plunkett’s PS in Beragh, the principal, Paraic Martin, says the first priority for both the children and staff will be ease themselves back into the new term.
“We are definitely looking forward to getting back into routine, for the pupils and staff to meet again and to hear all the stories about what the kids have been doing throughout the lockdown,” he said.
“The past few weeks have been pretty hectic getting everything prepared in line with the guidance. Now the aim is to ease the children back into school life because talking to them and building up that relationship again is just as important as the precautionary measures in place.
“All of us have anxieties around the coronavirus, but put yourself in the mind and an eight or nine-year-old as well, and you see that looking after them is going to be such an important part going forward.
“It is vital that the children know they are safe and that their parents feel safe in sending them back to school.”
A number of special measures are being introduced at St Oliver Plunkett’s to ensure that the proper precautions are adhered to and that classes are within specific bubbles as much as possible.
There will be separate entry and exit points from particular classrooms, staggered breaks are being organised and arrivals and departures to the school will also be planned based on family surnames.
In addition, pupils are permitted to wear their PE kits on alternate days to help them feel more comfortable.
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