AN INDEPENDENT school has welcomed back some of its boarding students for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Felsted School says its year ten and 12 boarders have been staying in separate houses and completing virtual learning together to help them adjust to a new way of life.

All boarding students were sent home when the lockdown began in March.

Those who have returned are being allocated time for socialising and exercising, but will not return to the classroom environment for the foreseeable future.

School bosses say regular deep cleaning has been introduced in the boarding houses, along with other measures such as temperature checks, increased handwashing and one-way systems.

Headteacher Chris Townsend said: "We are confident that we can accommodate our boarding pupils safely and allow them to continue with their education in a safe and enjoyable environment.

"Everyone has adapted well to the new rules and systems we have in place, to keep everyone safe, and parents have been very supportive and appreciative of the care that has been taken to make the return such a success."

Felsted says it carried out comprehensive risk assessments before allowing some of its boarders to return.

It says it has been given approval to welcome them back by the Government and the Boarding Schools Association.

Year 12 pupil Cooper Baker, from Toppesfield said: "It is so good to be back with friends and get away from the monotony of working solo from home.

"It has benefited me academically by being able to work with my peers and having access to teachers."

Sports scholar Beth Irvine, from Colchester, added: "I have been able to work more on my fitness using the facilities on campus, some of which have been able to reopen, and have had some personal training on the astroturf pitch with my hockey coach, so I am ready for the season ahead.”

Felsted has also welcomed back its younger day pupils in reception, year one and six.

Students yet to return are meanwhile continuing to be set work remotely and will do so until they are able to return in September.

Felsted School has around 460 boarding pupils and hopes the rest will be able to return by the beginning of the new academic year.