We issued a survey to parents and carers at the beginning of June to find out what concerns they have about pupils returning to school after the summer. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete this. We have read all your feedback and have collated these responses to answer your queries and, hopefully, provide you with some reassurance.
When will pupils return to school?
Schools in Argyll and Bute are due to re-open to staff on 11 August for an in-service day, with pupils expected to return on 12 August. This is subject to official confirmation from the Scottish Government no later than 30 July. We will be in touch with you as soon as we have this.
I am worried about the effect that lockdown has had on my child’s mental health and I’m concerned about how they will be going back to school?
We fully understand that this has been a difficult time for everyone, especially children and young people. We have a dedicated team of educational psychologists on hand to talk to anyone who feels that their child could benefit from some emotional support at this time. If you would like some help or advice from one of the team, call us on 01546 605524.
We have also put together additional resources to help you to have conversations about coronavirus with your child, and to direct you to sources of support and information, as well as information on accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) - you can find this information in the Our children, their mental health section of the Council website.
I’m concerned my child will have ‘fallen behind’ in their learning
On return to school, all children and young people will have their current learning achievements reviewed to enable them to move on and have the correct teaching requirements made available.
What arrangements have been made in schools to make sure that children and young people are safe?
We have produced a ‘COVID-19 Working Safely in Schools’ guide which will be shared with all schools by the end of July and will be available for parents to view on the Council website soon.
What protective measures will be in place to ensure the safety of children and young people and staff, particularly around cleaning?
We will be implementing a strict cleaning regime in all our schools that complies with Scottish Government guidance (COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance) to reduce the risk of transmission. We will also be making the most of outdoor space for learning, and reducing the use of shared items, such as stationery and books. Where resources are shared, strict guidance will be in place for cleaning these items (or quarantining them) between user groups. All staff and pupils will wash their hands frequently throughout the day, including on arrival, and before and after eating. Sanitizing gel; surface and skin disinfectant wipes; approved cleaning agent for classrooms; and sensitive antibacterial wash cream will also be readily available.
What will happen if circumstances change and pupils can’t return to school full time?
If this happens, we will follow any advice issued to us by the Scottish Government and will keep parents informed of plans. In Argyll and Bute, our education staff had previously put a huge amount of effort into preparing for a blended learning approach in our schools, so we are ready to use this if required.
When will I receive confirmed details about my child going back to school?
The Scottish Government is due to make an announcement on 30 July to confirm arrangements for pupils returning to school. As soon as this has happened, we will be in touch with you directly.
Whilst we await further information from the Scottish Government, here are the answers to some more of your questions in relation to schools returning in August. Further detailed information will be issued to you at the beginning of August.
I have anxiety around my child’s mental health. Can you advise if there are additional resources being put in place to support with children and young people’s mental wellbeing?
It is normal for children and young people to be experiencing anxiety at this time. Information and training has been provided to our school staff to help them provide support and reassurance to pupils as they return to school. Information is also available for parents on the Education Service Resource Hub which can be found here - www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/sites/default/files/mental_health_resources_updated_april_2020.pdf
If you have particular worries about your child’s mental health, our parent and carer helpline continues to be in operation over the summer, and will remain in place in to the new term. The number is 01546 605524, and is availableMonday 9.30am until 12noon, Wednesday 4.30pm until 7pm and Friday 9.30am until 12 noon. Please get in touch.
I am concerned about my child transitioning into a new school/nursery without having been properly prepared for this?
Children and young people are often more resilient than we think. Information about this new environment and the reassurance you provide at home will be of great help. Talk with your child about what they are looking forward to and what they might expect to happen in the first few days and weeks. For some, moving to a new school or nursery may be more challenging. Materials have been provided to all schools to enable support staff to put in place strategies and approaches that will help this transition to be as positive as possible. If you have specific worries, please pass these on to the school or nursery when your child starts.
If schools go back in a ‘blended’ model I have no childcare, what can I do?
Should schools have to go back under a ‘blended’ model this is potentially going to be an issue for a large number of parents. We will offer childcare for those children of keyworkers as outlined in Scottish Government guidance. Unfortuntately, we will not be able to support childcare out with those keyworkers. However, we will do everything we can to try and ensure that family groups are in school at the same time to help support parents (this will not be possible in most secondary schools). We hope to be able to inform you at the end of July if schools are returning full time or with a blended model.
Will the wearing of school uniform be compulsory?
Parents should follow the school uniform policy laid out by their child’s individual school. The current agreement in schools regarding uniform, as agreed by individual parent forums, is that it should not be affected by COVID-19.
There is no need to wash any items of clothing, including school uniform, more often.
What happens if a child or a member of staff becomes symptomatic whilst at school?
All parents and carers should ensure their children are symptom free when they are sent to school ie no sore throat, dry cough, raised temperature or lack of smell/taste. Should a pupil become symptomatic during the day then you will be asked to collect them straight away and they will be cared for in a dedicated isolation area within the school until they are collected. Staff will also be sent home should they become ill during the day. Each school will have a digital thermometer which may be used to test temperatures should staff be concerned about anyone having COVID-19 symptoms.