Suffolk schools praise students 'resilience' as face masks return
- Credit: PA
Students across Suffolk were wearing face masks on Monday as schools returned following half term.
Several schools had earlier introduced enhanced measures, but now a range of additional measures are being introduced across Suffolk to help reduce Covid transmission.
Many schools are also preparing for vaccination teams to visit, as the roll-out of jabs for ages 12-15 continues.
Suffolk County Council has advised that secondary and higher education students, and all staff in education settings, should wear face coverings in communal areas outside the classroom, unless exempt.
All education settings are admitting essential visitors only, and all visitors should wear face coverings while on-site, including parents picking up children.
Dave Lee-Allan, head of Stowmarket High School and chair of the Suffolk Association of Secondary Heads, said: "Staff and students have returned following half term and once again demonstrated their resilience and adaptability by complying with the latest guidelines regarding masks in communal areas.
"Whilst the day-to-day teaching and learning processes continue as normal, we have had to postpone a Year 7 parent evening and restricted other non-essential visits to our school.
"The Covid vaccination process has been pushed back towards mid November.
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"Recent NHS information has encouraged parents to use external clinics to access Covid jabs, and, whilst this sounds a good idea, it makes the job for us at school harder to determine which students now need a vaccination and which ones don't.
"It is clear that the service is under great strain, so we hope that the date can be maintained and that as many students who have parental permission can access their vaccinations as soon as possible."
Andy Green, principal of Copleston High School in Ipswich, said: "The students have been absolutely fine about wearing face masks. Most of them brought their own masks, some didn't, but we had told parents we would supply masks for those who didn't bring them.
"We are wearing masks in lessons as well. That's the view of the trust, because when you are in the classroom you are next to someone else."
Mr Green said the school was also continuing with a number of measures introduced previously, such as having different communal spaces for different year groups, a one way system and up to 200 hand sanitiser points.
The vaccination team is due to visit on November 4.
Mr Green said: "We are pleased that it's happening this week and hope it will be another positive step."
He said the school only provides the location and information to parents on the timings, with the visiting team being in charge of the actual vaccinations, and added parents had to decide whether their child should be jabbed.
"I totally respect the right of parents to make the decision on whether their son or daughter should be vaccinated."
Along with schools, colleges have also brought in measures such as mask-wearing.
A spokesperson for Suffolk New College said: "The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community is paramount at all times, therefore our four campuses have adopted the new Covid measures in line with local authority guidance.
"We all have a commitment to reducing the spread of the virus, therefore adopting these measures is something we are happy to do in order to safeguard the health benefit of people both inside and outside of our campuses in Ipswich, Otley, Halesworth and Leiston."