THOUSANDS of children are preparing to head back to schools across York next week.

Staff have been making plans for the new term, including measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19, and ways to ease anxieties any children may have about being back.

Secondary students have been asked to take two lateral flow tests, about three days apart before their return, and continue to test regularly over the coming months. Testing can be done at home or at one of the city’s testing sites until September 12.

A number of secondaries within the Hope Sentamu Learning Trust welcomed Year 7s to summer schools this week, with other groups returning next week.

Trust schools are corresponding directly with parents about arrangements for the term, including details of zones and arrival information.

The Trust is also asking secondary students to wear face coverings in communal areas.

Vale of York Academy principal Toby Eastaugh said: “We are really looking forward to seeing our students again and getting back to business. Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community, so students and staff will be asked to make sure they have a mask to wear when moving around the school and in communal areas.

“We are staggering the return to school next Tuesday, with Year 7 arriving at 8.45am and the rest of the students coming in at lunch time.

“We are planning for students to return to being taught across the school using the full range of specialist areas again, but will be retaining staggered lunches and designated social spaces at break and lunch.

“I know the majority of students will be excited to return to school, but we are also mindful that some students will be feeling anxious. Our pastoral team and senior leadership team will be on hand to work with any students and families who have worries.”

Gail Brown, chief executive of Ebor Academy Trust which has seven primaries in York and three in the Selby area, said: “We are all excited to see everyone back together in class again. There will be an emphasis on ventilation, so plenty of fresh air, and the high standards of hygiene we introduced at the start of the pandemic will still be in place.

“The overall aim is to minimise the disruption the education sector has suffered. By and large, though, we are acknowledging that risks remain but we are managing them.

“Importantly, attendance at school is crucial. Please be reassured that school is the best place for children to be and schools are doing their best to try and get as much back to normal as they can.”