Louth Academy Year 10 students, Ruby Fox (14), Jamie Atkinson (14) and Cameron Moncaster (15) chat with the local TV station about their return to school and why they feel safety measures are so important to keep schools open.
Louth Academy students have once again embraced wearing masks in the classroom and testing for Covid as often as necessary to keep their school open this winter.
Almost 900 students are returning to the Academy’s Upper and Lower Sites this week during an unprecedented rise in Covid cases across the region, but they remain undaunted by the need for further safety measures.
Masks became compulsory again as the January term began, both in classrooms and corridors, and students returned to first day Covid-19 tests coupled with phased returns for Year Groups.
Once again, a team of Science technicians, teaching assistants and administrative staff have rallied round to deliver lateral flow tests each morning to ensure that students can safely enter the school. The students then wait in a holding area for the result of their tests before being allowed back into the classroom if they are negative.
Year 10 student Ruby Fox (14), said the masks are an inconvenience and can be uncomfortable, but everyone knows how important it is to wear them.
“You do get used to masks and they just become part of our day-to-day life,” she said.
“I have just returned from isolation having had Covid and I am the only member of my family to have tested positive. We do have vulnerable people in the family so I am very conscious of how important it is to protect them.
“For me the school is doing so well in testing all of the students and ensuring that we are all wearing masks to protect us and make sure that we can keep the doors open here, which is what we all want.”
Jamie Atkinson (14) agreed. He said: “I am not too bothered about wearing masks again. We have had to do it for the last two years now and it almost becomes normal. If it stops the spread of Covid then it is worth it.”
Louth Academy Principal Philip Dickinson said the students’ positive response to the return of masks and testing is what he expected from a student body that has embraced safety measures throughout the pandemic.
“The return to school this week has gone really well. The students have been absolutely fantastic. I think they understand, as we do, that although we have some hoops to jump through this week it is for the greater good, which is to keep the school open.
“Wearing masks is inconvenient but if it keeps face-to-face education in operation then that has to be a positive to take from the restrictions. I have spoken to all of the students and explained to them that hopefully this will be a temporary measure, and we have asked them to cooperate with us and try their very best to adhere to the new guidance which, to be honest, they have always done in the past, which is why we have been successful in keeping students in school.
“This has been a very challenging time. We cannot underestimate the amount of hard work that has gone into getting back to school. The team of testers has been fantastic because, in the face of adversity and at their own risk, they have put themselves forward each time to test the students. It has been a mammoth task in terms of organisation and logistics but it has been very successful for us.
“Keeping students safely in school has to be our number one priority. We have of course run a very successful remote learning programme in the past and offered a full timetable to students, but nothing replaces students sitting in front of a passionate teacher in the classroom.
“For our current Year 11 students, in particular, this is crucial as they have been hugely impacted by the pandemic. They have missed 22 weeks of face-to-face education, so it is our absolute priority to keep them in school and give them a fair opportunity to have successful outcomes at the end of this year.
“I am confident that we can do this. We have been very successful since the start of the pandemic in keeping students in school outside of lockdowns and I think if we all continue to work together and have that positive attitude towards the safety measures then we will reap the benefits.”
Louth Academy students once again take lateral flow tests in the Academy’s Upper Site testing centre, which is run by a team of volunteers made up of Science Technicians, Teaching Assistants and Administrative staff.
The Upper Site Dance Studio has become a temporary testing centre with students being tested each day this week as they take part in a phased return to school.