FAMILIES and friends are in for a feast of festive fun as a school community pulls together to celebrate Christmas in the face of COVID.

Global pandemic is proving to be no obstacle to staff and children at Barnard Castle Preparatory School who plan to stage all the traditional events and stream them online to families.

A week of festivities will see the curtain rise on four pantomimes, one for each of the Prep School Houses, – Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs and Snow White – which will be videoed in year group bubbles and sent via a secure internet link to parents during the last week of term.

The Year 3 and 4 bubble will perform the annual Christingle service, taking viewers on a tour of the school site, from the Atkinson Hall, to the car park festive display and the School Chapel, where they will parade with candles, oranges and crosses. Festive songs will range from Frosty the Snowman to O Come All Ye Faithful accompanied for the first time by the Prep School Brass Band.

On the Wednesday, Year 5 and 6 will stage the annual carol service with web-watchers being treated to readings and carols and additional festive ditties including White Christmas, First Christmas and Jingle Bell Rock.

The following day will see a performance of the Nativity, which has been filmed around the huge school site including a stable scene created in the forest school.

Because of COVID restrictions no more than 15 pupils will sing together at any one time but the video edit will see them blended together to raise the roof.

The performance will also premier the talents of the school’s glockenspiel players – the only instrument that can be sanitised and safely used currently within school.

The last day of term will see children arrive in Christmas jumpers before enjoying a day of well-earned festivities.

Careful planning has also gone into the safe exchange of Christmas cards. A post box has been set up for cards which will then be quarantined. When it is safe to do so Year 3, equipped with facemasks and gloves, will become ‘Christmas elves’ and sort the cards which will be put into an A4 envelope for each recipient, which again will be quarantined, before being handed out to take home.

Even a super-sanitised Santa will make a socially distanced outdoor visit to wish pupils a Merry Christmas and a COVID-free New Year.

Headmistress Laura Turner said: “Christmas is a magical time and the children and their families have had to endure such a lot this year that we were absolutely determined to make it as special as we possibly could.

“We have all become very proficient with the latest technology because of the pandemic and staff were delighted to put their new-found skills to good effect to ensure that families did not miss out on the festive fun despite being unable to join us in person.”