The slow return to school began this week as many Jewish primaries welcomed back several year groups with new social distancing and hygiene measures in force.
While some schools have been catering for a small number of children of key workers, the government encouraged them to start readmitting children in nursery, reception and years one and six from Monday.
Sinai in Kenton said 56 per cent of eligible children returned for lessons this week, while the Jewish Community Academy Trust, which is responsible for five London primaries, reported that around two-thirds had attended.
Nadine Arbiter said her daughter Chloe, a year one student at Sinai, had enjoyed a “wonderful” first day back.
She had been “blown away” by how things had been organised. “After such a worrying time, the planning of the drop-off set the day off to a great start and put me immediately at ease.
“It was slick and seamless and the children were escorted from the cars to their teachers waiting in the playground. The collection was also staggered, meaning as a parent I felt safe and able to maintain social distancing.”
Chloe “enjoyed a picnic lunch outside and had a day full of learning —English, maths and even mindfulness. She came out with a big smile.”
Kirsten Jowett, chief executive of Jcat, said three of its primaries had reopened for all the designated year groups. Wolfson Hillel in Southgate was staggering the return but Hertsmere Jewish Day School in Radlett had no room for year six because it had too many children of key workers.
“A huge amount of planning has gone into creating safe spaces,” she said. “This includes bubbles of staff and children; learning spaces with social distancing built in; staggered breaks, lunches and drop-off and pick-up times and a comprehensive cleaning plan.”
Staff and the children of key workers had been offered coronavirus tests last week and plans were in place for anyone showing symptoms, including “the use of PPE and tests within 24 hours”.
Schools are keeping children in “bubbles” of small groups as a precaution.
At Naima JPS in Maida Vale, headteacher Bill Pratt said the vast majority of relevant pupils had come back with no more than 10 in a class at any one time. Remote learning continued for those at home.
Assaf Ben Ezra of Keren’s Nursery said that more than half the children had returned at each of its three sites.
“Parents and children were extremely happy and followed all the regulations, checking for fever and washing hands,” he said. “All went fantastically well. Children had missed their friends very much.”