Masks, social distancing and one-way halls... how NI school is adapting to the new normal
Pupils returning to a Craigavon school haven't just been getting used to new Covid-19 regulations; Lismore Comprehensive School also has a new principal and, for the first time in its 48-year history, a new uniform.
New principal Shauna Lennon (47) was appointed to the role earlier this year, succeeding Fiona Kane, who moved to head up the nearby St Ronan's College in Lurgan.
Having served as vice-principal for three years and taught IT and maths at the school for more than 20 years, Mrs Lennon said she was ready for her new challenge, which includes restoring a sense of normality for both students and staff as they adapt to social distancing, face masks and one-way corridor systems.
"We were never really away from the school over the past few months," said mother-of-two Mrs Lennon as her pupils' first week back in the classroom since March drew to a close.
"We were here all summer preparing for the return of our students and getting all the necessary systems in place.
"While it has been a busy time, everyone really pulled together to ensure that we were ready to open on time and safely."
Pupils in Years 12 and 14, whose preparation for exams was disrupted by five months of lockdown, began the new term last Monday. The remainder of the school's 1,195 students and 117 staff members will follow in the coming days.
"It will be a challenge when the whole school community is back, but hopefully the systems we have in place will be fine," Mrs Lennon said.
"I do feel that all our parents are confident about sending their children to school again, given all the work that has gone on here over the summer."
Shea Farren and Lauren Delaney, the school's newly appointed head boy and girl, will be among those on hand to offer support and reassurance to other pupils on their return.
"It's a big responsibility, but I'm over the moon and looking forward to the big year ahead," said Shea (17). The Year 14 student, who is planning to study economics and global sustainability at the University of Warwick, is glad to have a routine again after months in lockdown.
"With the new restrictions it's very different being back and I've had a few students coming up to me this week asking questions about the new rules," he said.
Lauren (18), who hopes to study social work at either Queen's or Ulster University, added: "Being back at school after so long still feels a bit surreal, but the staff have implemented so many procedures to make us as safe as possible.
"The one-way systems and social distancing in classrooms really give a sense of comfort, but it will take some getting used to."
The pair will also have to get to grips with the school's first uniform change since it opened in 1972.
"I really like it. Compared to other schools, it looks very vibrant," said Lauren.
Education Minister Peter Weir announced on Tuesday that the guidance on face masks would be updated to include a recommendation to wear them in corridors of post-primary schools when they return full-time.
Previous advice had made it mandatory for all pupils aged 13 and over to wear a face covering on public transport or when large numbers of staff or pupils were gathered together an enclosed space where social distancing was not possible.
Mrs Lennon said the decision to recommended the routine use of coverings in schools was the right move.
"I do feel we are at the stage that if we want to try and keep our schools open, we need to make sure we're protecting each other," she added.
"I will be strongly advising pupils and staff to wear masks in corridors and communal areas."