The headteacher of a West Cumbrian secondary school has spoken about the measures that have been implemented to stay safe, including wearing face coverings inside the school building.

Dr Rob Petrie, from Cockermouth School, said procedures had been put in place at the start of term in order to keep everyone safe. This included one-way systems, sanitizer, year group bubbles and teachers visiting pupil classes.

Now that all the years have returned, Dr Petrie continues to be impressed with staff and pupils on how they have embraced the changes. He said: “Having not experienced anything different, students new to the school in Year 7 and Year 12 have settled into our routines very quickly.

“Those who have had to adjust to staggered break and lunchtimes and spending much of the day within a small number of rooms in their bubble have impressed us greatly; behaviour has been excellent and everyone is focussed and working well.”

The school has had to make adjustments in order to keep everyone safe, which is a priority for them. One of these adjustments is to introduce face coverings to be worn in school.

He said: “Operating in year group bubbles is working well and has reduced the movement of students around school, however we are unable to completely remove every occasion when small numbers of staff and students will pass on corridors. Therefore, due to this and the rising number of Covid-19 cases locally and nationally, we decided to implement the additional protection of everyone wearing face coverings when moving around school, unless medical exemptions apply. Everyone has taken this change in their stride, and I am particularly pleased with the mature response of our students.”

Departments have settled into new ways of working to keep students engaged, which has required creative thinking for some, particularly practical subjects, where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. But they are working to continue to offer students as broad a range of experiences as possible during the current restrictions.

While attendance in the first week was very high, the knock-on effect of siblings or other family members having Covid-19 symptoms is now being felt. Dr Petrie said: “Whether it is due to the coronavirus or seasonal colds, approximately 100 students are being absent from school each day so far this week due to self-isolating. This statistic is consistent throughout the county, and is likely to continue while families take the appropriate action keeping their children off school while awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test.”

He added: “We have received many positive messages from parents and carers about the measures we are taking to ensure that their children are safe and happy to be in school, and students are overwhelmingly telling us that they are pleased to be back.”