DAY one of returning to class after weeks of home learning was a whole new experience for pupils with smaller classes, markings on the floor and having to rotate toys.

But for Paul Hodges, chairman of governors at Jotmans Hall Primary School in Benfleet, he said it was simply back to lesson time.

“There’s been no supermarket-style queues and no suffering”, he said.

“The classrooms are a bit different. The desks are spread apart and the teachers have been doing a great job of keeping it as normal and safe as possible.”

Essex County Council said about 75 and 80 per cent of primary schools across the county re-opened yesterday.

The schools opened their doors for youngsters in Reception, Year One and Year Six with new safety precautions in place due to the coronavirus outbreak.

At Jotmans Hall Primary School, less than half of the pupils that could return have done so.

Mr Hodges added: “I went down to the school as we are taking it very seriously and have got a duty of care for the children and the staff.

“I have been in the school for the last week for visits and the school has done full risk assessments.

“It all went fine on Monday. The staff were out and were very welcoming and the children all lined up, we have spacer dots in the playground area for the children to line up.

“We also have separate gates for each year group and another entrance for the children of key workers.

“The parents also seem okay and we’ve been open for ten weeks for key workers’ children.

“Everyone seems very happy. The key workers’ group have been coming in and we’ve had about ten to 14 each day but it has changed and that’s from a school of 300.

“Now we’ve got about nine children from each year group, Reception, Year One and Year Six coming in.”

Mr Hodges said the school is rotating the toys for the young children to ensure the same set are not being used by different groups of children.

He said: “Some of the toys have been taken away and stored to help control what we can clean.

“I would imagine it’s not going to be easy to keep the younger children to follow social distancing but there are teachers and teaching assistants so it’s easier for staff to hover about and keep an eye on the children.

“There are less children in the reception year with about six.”

For the reception class children, the classroom has a cleared space in the centre of the room and coloured dots on the floor to enjoy a story time session.

He said with the reduced number of children in the year groups, it will allow each child in each year group to attend the school for one day a week.

He said there had been less than half the number of children attend the school as opinions from parents were mixed.

A county council spokesman said: “We have been supporting schools and settings to develop their plans for wider opening.

“Each school has made their own decision on how they will respond based on the completion of a thorough health and safety risk assessment. This means that not all schools and settings will open full time to all pupils who are now eligible to return.”