Shellina Prendergast, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “I would like to extend a warm welcome back to school to all pupils, teachers and staff across Kent. I hope you all had a relaxing, enjoyable, and healthy summer break and are returning to the classroom refreshed and looking forward to the new school year.
“I would also like to thank all staff who gave up part of their summer holiday to deliver catch up lessons or provide other learning opportunities for pupils, or to prepare school buildings for pupils’ safe return.
“Although many restrictions were lifted over the summer, COVID-19 has not gone away and it is important everyone plays their part in keeping themselves, their families, friends, teachers, and support staff safe.
“We are encouraging all schools in Kent to follow the latest Government guidance, which includes implementing safety measures such as regular handwashing, cleaning regimes, and keeping spaces well ventilated.
“Secondary school pupils are asked to continue taking regular COVID-19 tests, as they were doing before the summer holidays, to ensure any positive cases are identified as quickly as possible – your school will be able to offer advice on testing if necessary.
“I must also thank individuals working in nurseries and early years settings who have worked hard to keep the children and babies in their care safe and well; many of these have been open throughout the summer holiday period.
“As you return to school, and some of you start at a new school or begin school for the first time, it is only natural that you may have worries or concerns, and that these may be heightened by the presence of the pandemic.
“However, my colleagues and I firmly believe that school is the best place for children and young people to be for their educational and social development as well as for their mental and physical well-being.
“I really hope that as life slowly begins to return to normal, Kent’s children and young people can focus on the positive things they can enjoy in school now, after missing out on them for so many months, such as socialising with all their friends during lunch and break times rather than only those in their bubble and taking part in more practical lessons and extracurricular activities.
“I wish you all an enjoyable, successful, and safe time at school and hopefully, if we all work together and do our bit for our community, we can enjoy a fantastic year.”