Schools in Hastings and Rother apart from Hastings Academy have stayed generally open so far since the start of the autumn term, though some specific classes have been closed and sent home.

Hand gel or handwashing is the norm on class exit and entry. Masks are donned in secondary school corridors, pupils are directed down one-way systems, and PE kits worn all day if it’s on the curriculum.

At Claverham College in Battle, year groups are “bubbled”.  They had a positive test case in Year 9 and sent 33 pupils home to self-isolate.

At Rye College, where there has been one confirmed case, students are not kept in one class for all lessons. A parent comments that teachers she has spoken to “feel that they are now getting used to the difference in teaching and the invisible barrier between teacher and pupil groups”.

The school authority has been more concerned at pupils failing to wear masks or socially distance on trains into and out of Rye station – parents have been told that one pupil was reported as having “deliberately coughed on a member of the public”.

At St Leonards Academy a one-way system has been instituted, but it’s reported that this sometimes leads to dead ends or locked hallways and that several year groups may have to wait together until a member of staff arrives. Some pupils in Year 10 have been compelled to drop one or more GCSEs because of school closures.

Some primary schools have clearly experienced social distancing issues among parents at drop-off and collection. At Battle and Langton C of E, children are required to line up outside in separate bubbles to be let in at 5-10 minute intervals, with the road and car park shut off. Other schools have made similar adaptations.

But, in general, primaries are praised by parents for in-school organisation. One mother said: “My son attends St Pauls C of E Academy [in Hastings], he has had a very pain-free experience within the school. It has been quite an adventure for him to eat his lunch in the classroom.   We were worried that the school would be very aggressive in the way they approached social distancing at play times but he has not been affected by this.” 

Teachers at St Pauls do, however, even in reception class, wear gloves, and wash their hands every time they touch a child.

Another mother, with children at both primary and secondary schools, comments: “Mine are both very happy to be back at school, and both adjusted very well to any new arrangements – a lot better than I thought they would. I’m just hoping we don’t get shut down, as my oldest has just started his GCSEs and finds learning from home extremely hard.”

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