Principal salutes students, parents and volunteers as college life resumes

Year 7 Sidmouth College students in a history lesson this week

Year 7 Sidmouth College students in a history lesson this week - Credit: Sidmouth College

Sidmouth College welcomed back students this week after most had gone through weeks of home learning.

Principal Sarah Parsons told the Sidmouth Herald: “On Monday and Tuesday our amazing group of volunteers carried out the lateral flow Covid testing prior to the students starting back. 

“We had so many positive comments from our volunteers about the way that our students conducted themselves during their Covid tests, they were a real credit to themselves and the college. I would like to thank Jo Cox and her team for their efficiency, which enabled the smooth start back to face-to-face learning.

“Over the next week the students will complete their second and third Covid test before they are given their home test kits.”

Sidmouth’s students have been well supported in order to make a successful transition back into the college this week, and are now back in lessons and working hard. 

Mrs Parsons said: “Our priority at the college is to ‘provide a safe, supportive high quality learning environment for all of our students. The staff at the college are working hard to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the college closure and we are working on mapping students’ knowledge, ensuring this is mastered and then moving forwards with our curriculum.

“I have been really impressed with the way in which our students have returned to us. They are keen to get back into the routines of the college and are following all of our protective measures well.

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“Staff at the college are delighted to have the students back and we remain optimistic that we will now be able to remain open and continue to maintain our high quality education offer to all our young people.

“Once again I would like to thank our wider community who have given up their time over this fortnight to support our testing programme.”

As reported in the Herald last week, more than 40 volunteers from across the Sidmouth community answered the call for help from the college and were on hand to test students for the virus using lateral flow kits. 

Last year, construction work was completed on a new main building block and other facilities, which were officially opened on Monday, January 4. However, the lockdown was then announced, meaning students did not set foot inside the new building until earlier this week.

Mrs Parsons explained last week that once they returned, students would have some time with their tutor, which would include a wellbeing check through conversation. They would also have an expectation assembly and because of the move to a new building they were going to be given a walk around the new one-way system to familiarise themselves. 

Government guidance states that covid testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said this week: “The reopening of schools marks a truly national effort to beat this virus. It is because of the determination of every person in this country that we can start moving closer to a sense of normality – and it is right that getting our young people back into the classroom is the first step.

“We are being cautious in our approach so that we do not undo the progress we have made so far and I urge you all not to give up on your efforts to keep your families and others safe. Get the vaccine, get tested, and remember that we are all in this together.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said Monday marked “a moment of joy for millions of people across the country – from the students going back to class to the teachers who can’t wait to get them back – as young people walk through their school and college gates and are reunited with their friends”.

He added: “I do not underestimate how challenging the last few months have been with some children in class and most at home, but I do know how important it is for all children to be back in school, not only for their education but for their mental health and wellbeing.

“Over the last few days I’ve been visiting schools and speaking to staff who have been preparing for the full return and their sheer dedication and selflessness has shone through.

I’d also like to thank children, young people, their families and carers for their patience and resilience in the face of the challenges the pandemic has posed.”

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