THE first day back at school went without a hitch for Reception and Year 1 youngsters in Marlborough and Devizes.

“They came skipping in, which was lovely,” said headteacher of St Mary’s in Marlborough, Anne Schwodler. “We had about 53 children in on Monday, but we only brought in the Reception children along with those of key workers. It went really well and we had no problems at all.

“We have been open throughout lockdown, so the key worker children are quite rehearsed with social distancing.

“We have created a staggered start time as well, so not everyone is coming in or leaving at the same time, and we have painted social distancing lines coming into the school to help the parents keep distanced, as well as lines going out to help the children when they leave.

“We are keeping running all week, but finishing a bit early to allow for a thorough clean. Teachers are also staying to clean as well so everyone is rolling their sleeves up.”

St Mary’s has 390 pupils when running at full steam, but as the children come back, they are being put into teaching ‘bubbles’ with a maximum of 15 pupils in each and they will stay with the same teacher and group to minimise cross contamination.

At Southbroom Infants in Devizes they are splitting returning pupils in Reception and Year 1 into two cohorts. Each will be allocated two days to attend school — either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday — and parents will be given designated drop-off and collection times.

Wednesday is being set aside for a clean.

“The first day back went really well,” said headteacher Joanne Jardim. “The children were really pleased to be back and the parents seem happy with what we have done.

“We have got social distancing blobs on the floor and we have Lego men reminding the children what to do.”

At Kennet Valley C of E in Lockeridge, head Emma Russell said:

“The day went well. Staff and pupils all enjoyed the day. We had lots of children running across the playground to come into school which was great to see. They all spent lots of time out doors in the sunshine which as great. It was fantastic to hear the children’s happy voices in the building again.

“We have changed the layout of the school quite a bit, so that we are providing as safe an environment as we can for the children coming into school.

“Classrooms only have the minimum required furniture in them, such as a desk for each child with individual trays of equipment for them to use. When in school, teachers will also be taking their bubbles outside to work as much as they can, including to have picnic lunches when the weather is fine.

“We have also built in opportunities for children to complete mindfulness activities such as yoga and meditation and of course safe physical exercise.