Full Reopening of Schools - Frequently Asked Questions

Full Reopening of Schools (Published Monday 3 August)

What date will children return to school?

Scottish Government have issued a directive that all schools will reopen fully in August.

Schools will reopen on 10 August.  There will be two in-service days for staff and pupils will return on Wednesday 12 August.  There will be a phased return for the first week to allow pupils to become familiar with the new arrangements in place to mitigate the risk of infection.  In secondary schools, pupils will attend for shorter periods each day.  In primary schools, Primary 1 children will have a shorter day.  There will also be individual arrangements in place for children with additional support needs.

Head Teachers will inform parents on the arrangements for their child.

What measures will be in place to minimise the risk of infection and transmission?

The Scottish Government has issued guidance on the reopening of schools.  This has been informed by the scientific advice from the national Advisory Group.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-preparing-start-new-school-term-august-2020/

The Council has developed guidance for all schools taking account of the Scottish Government Guidance.  This has informed planning at school level and the development of a School Recovery Plan.

A risk assessment will be in place in each school.  The Council’s Health and Safety Team has provided comprehensive guidance.  In June, Head Teachers worked to review this in their school taking account of the layout and changes to the organisation of the school that will be required.  This is being further reviewed to take account of the full return of pupils in August.

It will include enhanced hygiene measures including the provision of hand sanitiser; enhanced cleaning in all schools and early years centres.  This includes the provision of day cleaning in schools.

Measures will be in place in relation to physical distancing in schools:

The scientific advice is that there is no requirement for physical distancing between children in primary schools as long as mitigation measures are in place. 

The scientific advice is that physical distancing between young people in secondary schools is not required to ensure a safe return to schools.   The evidence is less clear for older pupils and so there are precautionary measures to provide reassurance to pupils and parents for secondary schools.   All secondary schools will review the additional mitigation measures and apply a proportionate and practical approach within the school.  The distancing measures should not limit the capacity within the school or classroom. 

There requires to be physical distancing of 2m between adults and children where ever possible.    Teachers and support staff should maintain 2m distancing between themselves and children; the exception is in early years and for children with additional support needs.    Adults will be required to maintain physical distancing of 2m at all times.

There will be clear and consistent signage throughout all our schools to remind staff and pupils of the requirements and instructions on the specific measures in place in each school building in relation to capacity in rooms, any one-way systems in place and in relation to physical distancing and hygiene.

Full information will be provided for parents and children in a Back to School Information Pack.  This will include information on the arrangements for lunches, travel to and from school and other issues including school uniform.

Head teachers will detail the arrangements in place in their school.  This will include the arrangements for entry and exiting the school and the ways the school will minimise contacts between pupils.

What support will there be for digital learning?

All schools provided home learning activities throughout the lockdown period.  However, we know that this has been difficult for parents, many of whom have also been working from home during this time.  Schools are evaluating the current provision, taking account of the views of parents and this will inform arrangements for the new session.

We are aware that access to technology and internet access is a barrier for some children and families.  Arrangements are in place to provide IT equipment and internet access to those children who require it.

Blended digital learning is an important aspect of the provision in schools next session. Digital learning will be used increasingly in classes and also for home learning (homework) tasks.   This will build on the progress made during the closure of schools and it will ensure that there is a contingency plan in place in the event of a full or partial school closure due to Covid-19

Detailed guidance and training will be provided to staff.  We are also developing a Virtual EDC provision for primary and secondary.  This will support learning in school and also those affected by learning loss due to the lockdown.

What support is there for children who may find transitions difficult?

We are aware that for many children transitions may be difficult. This is particularly the case for children with additional support needs and those at key points of transition; those moving into Primary 1 and those moving from primary to secondary.  Transition planning usually includes visits take place throughout the school year; for example, transition to secondary often begins in Primary 6 and throughout Primary 7.

If parents have any concerns about their child, they should contact the head teacher of their child’s school.  Arrangements can be made to support the transition back to school.

How will parents be consulted on the new arrangements?

As part of the recovery planning, we have consulted with the Parent Council Forum Steering Group.  Head teachers will consult with their Parent Council and the wider parent forum as part of the preparation of the School Recovery Plan.  This includes digital learning provision, family engagement including reporting to parents and the provision of health and well-being.

We will continue to consult with parents through the Parent Council Forum and within schools on an ongoing basis.

It will be important to review the arrangements in place in schools and work with staff, parents and pupils to make any changes that are required.  The situation due to Covid is going to require changes to the usual organisation in schools and it is important that these are evaluated and adaptions made.

I am worried about my child returning to school, what support is available?

If parents or a child are concerned about the return to school they should contact the head teacher of the school. If a child has an underlying health condition and/ or are particularly vulnerable to the Covid virus, a risk assessment can be carried out and some additional measures put in place to mitigate the risk of infection.

What happens if there is a case of Covid-19 in the school?

There are clear procedures in place if any child or member of staff who is unwell or displays symptoms of Covid-19.   Testing is available through the NHS and information is available on the NHS Inform Website:

https://www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/test-and-protect

There are procedures in place if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 within in a school.  The Council would work with Public Health to evaluate the risks and take appropriate action.

What are the arrangements for school transport including concessionary places?

Information for parents and pupils will be provided on the arrangements for school transport in the Back to School Information Leaflet; this will be issued prior to the pupils returning on 12 August.  The Council is working with SPT to put in place the contracts for school buses.  Due to the capacity constraints facing transport providers, SPT are not able to confirm the number of places, which will be available for concessionary places.  As a result, we will not be able to confirm the allocation of concessionary places on school buses until the October break.

Arrangements are being made for transport for children with additional support needs and there will be communication with parents once these are confirmed.