Tens of thousands of pupils returned to school this week – some for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

With attendance at school mandatory once more this term, a significant number of the city's primary schools are reporting attendances of 90% or above. Secondary schools are expected to welcome all year groups back by today (Friday).

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "It's heartening that many of our schools have seen very high attendance rates from day one, and we look forward to seeing that number increase further as schools fully reopen to all year groups and as pupils who have been in quarantine because they have been abroad are able to return.

"Children are really excited about being back in school, and for them and their parents it's a chance to get back to some sense of normality.

"We have been working closely with our schools to help them be as Covid-secure as they possibly can be and they are having to operate in a very different fashion at this present time, with pupils in bubbles while in school, additional hygiene measures in place and perhaps staggered start and finish times. 

"It's really important that everyone follows the rules at this time. Parents and carers, we know how difficult it is to maintain social distancing at the school gates, but please try to keep your distance from others when dropping off and collecting your children. 

"And children, please remember to use hand sanitiser and wash your hands more often, but, most of all, please enjoy being back at school, with your friends and in full time learning once more.”

Bilston CE Primary School welcomed 92% of its school population back on its first day of opening yesterday (Thursday).

Parent Laura Palmer said: "My 2 children were really excited about coming back. I feel the school has correctly highlighted its practices to ensure children are safe in school and parents feel happy to send their children back, which was evident by the numbers of children making their journey into school. 

"My children enjoyed remote learning at home throughout lockdown but a computer is no substitute for a teacher in a classroom and I am very happy they can now continue their learning at Bilston CE Primary.”

Headteacher Gary Gentle said: "We are really pleased with how our families have responded to the school’s plans to return children safely to full time school.

"Our children have had a great first day back in school and I am delighted with the school’s attendance rate, which no doubt will continue to rise over the next few days. It is really rewarding to see children smiling and enjoying learning in the classroom environment with their teachers.”

Katy Kent, CEO of St Bartholomew’s CE Multi Academy Trust, which includes St Bartholomew's CE Primary and Woodfield Primary schools in Penn as well as 2 other schools, said: "It has been wonderful to see the children back in our schools. 

"We knew that, within minutes of the children entering, things would feel almost back to normal and that was indeed the case. Schools are not complete without the children, and all the staff have commented on how lovely it is to hear laughter and chatting in and around the classrooms. 

"We are lucky at St Bartholomew’s CE Multi Academy Trust to have a wonderful body of staff who have all worked extremely hard to make this situation work. We learned lessons from the initial lockdown in March and have been able to deliver as safe an environment as possible for all our children. 

"The children have adapted quickly and sensibly to the new hygiene routines and altered environment of the classrooms. Our expectations and demands of the children have remained as high as ever and they have responded wonderfully; they are genuinely happy to be back into school and have been eager to get on with their learning."

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS at Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If a child or someone they live with develops symptoms of coronavirus – a fever, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to their sense of taste or smell – they will need to self-isolate in line with Government guidelines and book a Covid-19 test by visiting Coronavirus (COVID-19) or calling 119. No-one in the family should attend school.

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will be asked to share information about people that have been close contacts recently.