Most Lincolnshire primary school pupils were back in the classroom on Monday, with some secondary schools opting for a staggered return, so The Lincolnite spoke to parents in Lincoln, Boston, Sleaford and Skegness to see how it went.
Only key worker and vulnerable children attended lessons in the latest national lockdown, with the remaining pupils learning from home.
Pupils began their return to face-to-face teaching from March 8, while secondary school and college students will initially take three COVID-19 tests.
After this, students will be given two rapid tests to use each week at home. Primary school staff will continue to be tested.
Leanne Slade welcomed the school return and told The Lincolnite: “I’m pleased they can finally go back. All children need to have routine and structure.
“I do feel that even with how good the teachers have worked with homeschooling children, they will learn better being in school and around the right learning environment.
“I really appreciate all the hard work and effort that all the teachers have put in during this pandemic.”
Leanne’s youngest child Phoebie was happily skipping the whole way when she went back to nursery, while Benjamin, 7, and Tyler, 12, also returned to their respective schools (Priory Witham Academy and St Peter and St Paul Catholic Voluntary Academy).
Her eldest child Nathan is waiting to start back in Year 8 at Barnes Wallis Academy in Lincoln on Thursday, March 11.
She added: “They are staggering each year group in and testing will be done, which I think at their age they understand why and what it’s for.
“If it helps keep it out of schools then I’m happy for my 13-year-old to be tested and I’ll be happy to test myself during the Easter holiday to keep everyone safe as we have been asked to do.”
Robin Gilbert, 8, attends Westgate Academy and his brother Sam, 6, goes to Mount Street Academy. Their mum Chrissie Gilbert was happy with how the school return went.
She said: “The return to school was really good. Both schools are very well organised and have worked tirelessly to make sure they are COVID safe for the drop off and collection, so that alleviates the fear.
“The teachers and school staff have gone above and beyond in this pandemic. I’m confident they will get our kids back on track with learning and I wish that they got more recognition for all the extra work they have done.”
There is no requirement for testing of primary school children and Chrissie added: “Parents of primary school aged children and all staff are eligible for twice weekly lateral flow tests, and I think this is enough.
“It would be tricky to mass test primary aged children as it’s so invasive and I think they may find it distressing.”
Boston-based Paul Beard welcomed the return to school for his three children Kai, 9, Ollie, 12, and 17-year-old Alex.
Kai attends The Church Lane Primary School in Sleaford, with the other two returning to Boston Grammar School later this week.
Their father Paul said: “I believe the kids need to be back in school to help with their learning. I have three children and they’ve all taken to online learning differently.
“I believe the schools have worked so hard to keep them engaged and done tremendously well given the circumstances.
“The boys are ready to mix again and ready to have proper interactions. It’s extremely important for their wellbeing.”
Ollie added: “It’s been so long since I’ve spent time with my mates so I’m looking forward to that.”
On testing Paul added: “It is a great way to keep school running. Before this lockdown our boys were off for weeks at a time every time there was a positive test.
“This time hopefully they’ll be able to stop that happening with new testing. I think it probably should have been brought in for primary schools too.”
Skegness-based Jason Divilly welcomed the school return for his children.
Quinlan, 11, returned to Year 7 at Skegness Grammar School on Monday. Grace, 6, has been attending school at The Richmond School in Skegness during lockdown due to Jason working at Skegness College of Vocational Training.
His other two children, George, 19, and Anna, 17, have been working online to keep on track with their college and university work.
Jason said: “The school return, mainly for Quinlan, went well and it is important for him to get back to the school environment.
“As for testing, I have no concerns as they need to keep school staff and other students, as well as Quin and us, safe.”
Ross O’Loughlin and his wife are both key workers and he praised how school and nursery have been with their children – Saul, 6, and Seth, 3. They attend Ling Moor Primary School in North Hykeham and Pre-School Yellow Brick Road in Bracebridge Heath.
Ross said: “Saul was delighted to be back with all his friends on Monday and has missed them very much. It is impossible for us adults to comprehend.
“School have been excellent in providing a safe environment that we have always been confident in.”
On testing, he added: “I am very happy this age group are not wearing masks and being tested as it is very intrusive and scary for very little gain.”