The Scottish Government announced last week that the scientific advice and evidence in relation to the current suppression of COVID-19 will allow the full time return of all schools from the start of the new term. The last few months have been difficult for everyone. Let me again thank our pupils, their families and the staff for the efforts to sustain meaningful learning throughout last term.
The last few days have been somewhat challenging as we dealt with the publication of the SQA results while simultaneously digesting the guidance published last week on the reopening of schools.
All of our classrooms have already been set up to meet the required specification. This has been a huge logistical task given that we had previously dismantled much of the school in preparation for blended learning. I am grateful to the janitorial team and cleaners for all of their efforts.
In planning for reopening, schools are being asked “where possible” to consider options to
- Minimise movement between workstations and between classrooms
- Keep young people within the same groups for the duration of the day
- Keep groups apart from other groups
- Have groups work together for extended blocks of time
- Keep senior phase away from other groups and encourage distancing where possible
- Consider staggered breaks and lunch times
We already stagger the Primary and Secondary lunch times and introducing further staggering is not a simple thing to achieve. Likewise teaching in extended blocks of time has consequences throughout the school. The guidance does however recognise that schools may not be able to institute some or indeed any of these and makes clear that the full reopening of the school takes priority over such considerations.
We await the publication of further guidance on music making, P.E/sports activities and safe practice in home economics. At present we are advised to avoid singing and some other forms of music making. Venues that we use for senior sports are not yet open.
Opportunities for consultation with staff and parents have been limited during the holiday period. We will be discussing the pros and cons of the options under consideration with the parent and staff members of the Board of Managers which meets on Wednesday 5th August with the intention that the senior management team take some final decisions on reopening when it meets on Thursday 6th.
The reopening of schools in full is a key priority for society. Keeping them open is essential. It takes only two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a 14 day period and the local Health Protection Team will institute a review of the school. I would ask that you reflect on some of the key messages on public health and for parents in the box opposite.
The well-being of our young people has been a priority throughout the period of closure and will remain so as we recommence. The routines and demands of school life provide a highly beneficial structure for young people. We will be seeking to immerse them in as many learning and personal development opportunities as soon as possible.
We will write to you again shortly setting out the specific arrangements for the return of each year group from P1 to S6 from Wednesday 12th August onwards.
The guidance from Scottish Government is clear that while all young people will be returning to school, they do not expect a return to normality. No doubt there will be some teething issues in the first few days as the arrangements bed in or new guidance emerges. We ask you to bear with us as we work through such issues.
We look forward to seeing all of our pupils next week.
Paul W. Thomson
What Can Parents Do?
The advice from Scottish Government contains some specific recommendations for young people which you should reinforce before they return to school
- Wash Hands with soap regularly for at least 20 seconds
- Catch Your Cough – use a tissue to catch it, then bin and kill it (give your child tissues to carry)
- Don’t Touch Your Face to help prevent spreading germs
- Keep Your Distance – stay 2m away from adults
Advice for parents
- Discourage social physical contact by pupils ( hand to hand greetings/hugs)
- Encourage your child to walk to school. If you must travel by car, park some distance away and walk to the school.
- Do not enter the school buildings or grounds unless required.
- Do not congregate at the school gates.
- Maintain 2m social distancing from all adults including staff.
- School uniform/clothing should be washed/cleaned as normal
- Do not send your child to school if they are unwell for any reason.
- Advise your child that they MUST inform a member of staff if they feel unwell with symptoms of COVID-19. Come and collect your child immediately if the school advises you they are unwell.
- Face coverings should not be required for most young people. Those clinically advised to wear a covering are an exception.
- If you feel that your child is clinically at risk or there are family circumstances you wish the school to be aware of, then please contact us.