A boundary has been crossed in the return to normality at an independent school in Hampshire, with parents once again able to watch their children play cricket.
As part of a trial initially involving only year eight teams, spectators were in attendance for the first time in 14 months as Highfield and Brookham Schools took on Westbourne House School.
The tentative step back towards pre-pandemic life was accompanied by social distancing, carefully-controlled parking measures and extensive provision of hand sanitisers.
A few days later, parents were also able to look on as the under-13 boys’ cricket team welcomed their peers from Amesbury. Even a limited return has required extensive planning and forethought, said Phillip Evitt, headmaster at Highfield School.
“While we have worked tirelessly to keep our children and staff safe during the pandemic, it’s been a real minefield trying to prepare for any potential reopening of the school site to visitors,” he explained.
“But we’ve now successfully taken those first steps and we are delighted with how it’s gone. Our parents have really appreciated the steps we’ve taken to make sure everyone is kept as safe as possible.”
Having parents once again able to watch their children compete has offered a two-way benefit, according to director of sport at Highfield, Dan Bather.
“Not only was it lovely for the parents to be back on site watching live sport again, it was a real boost for the children to see their parents cheering them on from the sidelines,” he said.
Like the rest of the sporting world, the coed school is now waiting to see the outcome of rather higher profile trials – such as the return of a limited number of supporters to football grounds – as the government assesses the impact of larger public gatherings on the rate of coronavirus transmission.
If the data shows a minimal effect, says Highfield and Brookham, a full return of parents to school sports matches for all year groups at the co-ed school is “likely”.
In other sports news: St Dunstan’s College introduces gender-neutral sporting model