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Schools 'reopen’ today

Eyleen Gomez

Local schools will be reopening today for select school years.

The gradual return to school is in-line with the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown set out by the Gibraltar Government.

But for students, there will be little change from the remote learning that has defined their studies for the past eight weeks.

Likewise students living in Spain and attending private schools here will also continue their studies remotely, given restrictions remain in place on who can cross the border.

Public school Year 2 pupils in Lower Primary and Year 6 pupils in Upper Primary and in Hebrew Primary are set to return to school for part of the day as from this morning.

Guidelines implemented by the Gibraltar Government include reduced hours to “help with the transition back to school” and this will also facilitate social distancing measures.

Years 2 and 6 are split into two halves. One half will attend 10am to 12pm and the other half attend 1pm to 3pm.

Year 10 students will also return to Secondary School.

The ‘Unlock the Rock’ education plans have outlined that Year 10 students will be split into smaller groups and students will be advised of the specific times they are required to attend.

The school service, which allows parents to drop off their children while they are at work, will continue, as will home learning for those not returning to school.

“Home learning will cease for Year 2, Year 6 and the Secondary year group that is brought back to school,” the Unlock the Rock education plan states.

Arrangements have also been made by private schools to welcome their students back this morning.

A spokesman for Prior Park told the Chronicle that some 75 students are expected to attend their classes.

“Due to our small size and numbers, we are allowing students from any year group to return if they should choose to,” the spokesman said.

The school added a “large number” of parents had opted for their children to stay at home, and Prior Park continued to offer remote teaching.

Those returning to school will be grouped by year group and sit in supervised classrooms.

As a precautionary measure the classrooms will be spaced out with a desk in between each person and no more than 10 per class.

The students will “follow lessons on their devices, taught by a teacher in another classroom.”

“This allow for the same lesson to be taught fairly to those in school and at home,” the spokesman said.

“For those in the school building, this will allow for some social interaction with peers and teachers and a return to semi-normalcy for those students who want it.”

“We have put lots of measures in place to ensure the hygiene and distances guidelines are kept to.”

“Students will sign in and out of each classrooms in the AM and PM to ensure we can contact trace if needed.”

“Hand sanitiser and wipes will be at the entrance and exits of the school and in every classroom and office.”

Further precautionary measures include the staggered lunch and break times to ensure no large groups are gathering closely and all Prior Park teachers and staff have also been tested.

“No positive results that I am aware of.”

“We will all be retested on a rolling basis every seven weeks.”

The spokesman added that students living in Spain are not yet able to cross the border, “so [they] will continue to learn remotely for now”.

Loreto Convent will see the return on their Year’s 2, 6 and 7 pupils today.

The school added that the Year 7 pupils are a “small group” which are “transitioning” to attend comprehensive school in the next academic year.