HUNDREDS of thousands of pupils are now returning to the classroom – or perhaps starting school for the very first time.

It is always an exciting if nerve-wracking experience, with proud parents keen to shout about their children’s accomplishments.

Here, we take a look back at new starters of yesteryear. Let us know if you spot your child!

This year’s cohort head back to the classroom as Covid safety measures ease. Schools and colleges in England no longer have to keep pupils in year group “bubbles” to reduce mixing and face coverings are no longer advised.

Children also do not have to isolate if they come into contact with a positive case of Covid-19. Instead, they will need to get a PCR test and isolate only if positive.

All secondary school pupils are being invited to take two lateral flow device tests at school – three to five days apart – in England on their return to class.

Secondary schools and colleges are allowed to stagger the return of pupils across the first week to manage the Covid-19 asymptomatic testing process.

Schools in Scotland have already returned and the reopening is believed to have contributed to a rise in cases north of the border.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “As the majority of students prepare to return to the classroom this week, there is a critical need for stability and for the Government to keep the situation under review and be ready to respond with more support for schools and colleges if it is needed.

“We simply cannot have a situation in which we again see an alarming spiral in the number of children out of school and must be on guard against the health risks of infections.”

The NHS is preparing to ensure it is ready to potentially offer Covid-19 vaccines to all 12- to 15-year-olds in England from early September, although a decision has yet to be taken about this age group.

Schools and colleges are still being encouraged to maintain increased hygiene and ventilation.