A Salisbury school has welcomed the new Covid measures, with the hopes 2022 will be a more ‘stable’ year for the sake of students, teachers and families. 

For the start of the new term, all secondary schools have been asked to provide on site Covid testing facilities for pupils and students must now wear masks in classrooms. 

Stonehenge School has implemented these rules having set up a testing site with trained staff, and is staggering the start to the school year.

Year 11’s were tested yesterday and all of the other year groups will be tested on their return today, with parents urged to test the night or morning before to pick up Covid cases early.

Stonehenge School co-headmaster Carole Dean said: “We’ve got quite efficient at the testing and pupils are really used to it so they know exactly what to do and how to go about it.”

Prior to the new rules imposed by the government, Stonehenge School pupils were already wearing face coverings in corridors as part of an outbreak management plan encouraged by Wiltshire Council.  

But speaking on the effects of wearing a mask in classrooms, Carole Dean said: “It’s challenging for the pupils to some extent to have them on all day long. 

"We can see that it creates a challenge to the effectiveness of teaching and learning, just in terms of it being a barrier to effective communication.

"There is a challenge in the fact that you can’t see peoples facial expressions and you can’t always hear pupils who want to contribute to a lesson. But because we know there’s quite a high surge at the moment I think it adds to the overall safety that we feel.

“Staff members who work in schools are more likely to catch Covid so its a way of protecting not just the students and their families, but also maintaining face to face education so that we’ve got the staff to keep the school running.”

The co-head notes that staff absences due to Covid outbreaks had been a big concern before Christmas, as supply teachers were in demand across the region. 

“Because all the schools needed [teaching cover] all in one go, at those emergency points you can’t necessarily get people," she said.

Last term she said the school was ’almost at the limit’ at times when seven to eight teachers were off sick in one day, from Covid or other illnesses, meaning the senior staff had to step in. 

The Stonehenge School hasn't had to send any year groups home this academic year, but said 'we’ve felt very close to it'. 

The co-head continued: "We found that actually after the pupils had been vaccinated that’s what brought the amount of cases down quite significantly and made it a lot better.”

The school has high Covid vaccination levels amongst both its staff and students.

In terms of her hopes for 2022, Carole Dean said: “What we really want is a much more stable year. 

“If we have to impose measures like this in order to protect the pupils, their families and the staff, then we will do that.”

"Not all children access remote learning, or there’s the temptation to do other things rather than coming to lessons. The children need a sense of stability, and they like normality and a sense of having something that is as normal as possible. This much better for not just their wellbeing but their education as well.

"So I'm hoping that that is the sort of year we’ve got in front of us as much as possible."

Get more Salisbury news

You can also like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date, as well as signing up for one of our newsletters.

If you want online news with fewer ads, unlimited access and reader rewards - plus a chance to support our local journalism - find out more about registering or a digital subscription.

Email newsdesk@salisburyjournal.co.uk with your comments, pictures, letters and news stories.