SAFETY measures, staggered start times and even ‘special surprises’ are awaiting children when they return to school on March 8 after the latest coronavirus lockdown.

Two headteachers have told how they and their staff are working flat out to prepare for having their pupils back in class - and their excitement at the prospect.

And they stressed how they were ensuring that Covid-19 hygiene has to have top marks.

Susan Aldred, head of Audley Junior School in Blackburn, said: “We always say we are one big school family at Audley Juniors and we are all so thrilled about having the children back in school.

“The children were very excited on their Teams lessons when they heard they were coming back.

“There are some special surprises for the children on their return as well. We have new outside areas and quiet areas for them which they will be able to use when they get back.

“Our safety measures are obviously all still in place and the school is as Covid-secure as possible. We still have the staggered start times, very strict hygiene measures and all staff are now having lateral flow tests twice a week.”

Peter Tite, head of Blackburn’s Our Lady and St John Catholic College, said: “Our main focus is around ambition across the board – let’s come back to school and really shine.

“We have a lot to look forward to in our lessons and in the extra-curricular activities which will be returning. These are so important to our young people and help to develop their physical and mental wellbeing.

“Our safety measures are all in place with some extra ones too. We are having a phased return in the first week and all the hygiene standards will be as high as ever”

Cllr Julie Gunn, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s education boss, said: “I know there have been various challenges around home schooling and children and young people will be glad to see their friends and teachers again and get back to their usual learning.

“I know the main consideration is the health and safety of students and staff, and all our schools have been going above and beyond to keep the classrooms and buildings as Covid-secure as possible."