NK Academy in North Hykeham is looking forward to welcome pupils back into school from Monday after the start of its coronavirus testing programme.
Only key worker and vulnerable children attended lessons in the latest national lockdown, whilst the remaining pupils moved to a remote learning provision.
With all students beginning their return to face-to-face teaching from March 8, The Lincolnite spoke with Jo Tunnicliffe, Headteacher at NK Academy, which has around 900 pupils.
All secondary school and college students will initially take three coronavirus tests. NK Academy is bringing in five year groups (8, 10, 11, 12, and 13) for testing on Thursday and Friday, 4 and 5.
Any who test negative will come back in on Monday and Tuesday for a second test. No more than 15 students at a time will wait in the allocated canopy area after being tested, before going straight to class if their test result is negative.
The Academy’s students in Year 7 and 9 will have a delayed start, returning on Wednesday, March 10 to be tested on that day. After the students have had their three tests, 3-5 days apart, they will have test kits to take home with them.
Staff and the 54 key worker and vulnerable children have been tested twice a week since January, with all results coming back negative. From March 8 staff will have test kits which they will use at home on Sundays and Wednesdays.
The main change on the return to school will be face coverings being mandatory in classrooms, to add to the already existing measures implemented by the academy such as year groups in zones, staggered break and lunchtimes, and sanitising stations.
Mrs Tunnicliffe told The Lincolnite: “I am feeling quite excited that they are going to be back in school. It will be really good for them and for the staff to start getting back into routine.
“I am also a bit apprehensive about the testing and the logistics of it, as it has not been done at this scale yet.
“I think we have done a brilliant job [during the pandemic]. We have taken the silver linings where we can and done lots of work with risk assessments and we’ve been praised by the Health and Safety Executive for how we’ve managed contact tracing.
“The zoning areas have also been successful and is something we will keep post pandemic. Remote learning was set up within a week of the announcement this time last year and showed how quickly we can move in a really innovative way.”
Mrs Tunnicliffe added that the school has put money into supporting the small number of students who have struggled to engage during lockdown.
The school has made connections with local teaching schools with graduate trainees coming to work with struggling students. In addition, the school is working with the National Tutoring Programme.
She added: “We’ve done a really good job of remote provision and monitoring who has been engaged and who hasn’t. We are trying to avoid the word catch up and negative vocabulary and we will assess and work out what any gaps are and teach them in the best possible way.
“I’m a big believer in learning and trying to make the best of a bad situation. Whilst the pandemic has been horrendous in terms of national and local impact, we have taken those bits of positive wherever we possibly can.
“It has been a fantastic opportunity to connect more with parents and improve links with the local community.”
NK Academy is also looking forward to reintroducing charity and community events in the future, including afternoon tea for local businesses.