Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Schools and early childhood centres

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates on what's happening in East Ayrshire schools and early childhood centres.

SQA arrangements and prelims(updated 11 January 2021)

Letters have been issued to parents and carers and to young people regarding SQA arrangements and prelims.

Young people working towards National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher courses were due to complete assessments in January and April this year. January assessments have been postponed and will now take place when schools return. This is currently scheduled for February. It is hoped that April assessments will go ahead as planned. 

Letter to parents

Letter to young people 

Key worker status (updated 6 January 2021)

Applications for key worker status are now closed. Please speak directly to your school or Early Childhood Centre if you have not yet registered.

Schools reopening (updated 4 January 2021)

Today, Monday 4 January, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced additional protections against COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the new, highly contagious strain of the virus. Schools and Early Childhood Centres will not open fully before Monday 1 February. 

We will write to parents, carers and pupils as soon as we can with further information. 

As of Thursday 7 January 2021 normal school transport arrangements will apply for pupils identified as Vulnerable and those of key workers to attend their school. Any lost days for pupils who access our Subsidised Transport Service, will have their accounts credited in due course to reflect these changes.

January 2021 reopening (updated 22 December)

On Saturday 19 December, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced additional protections against COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the new, highly contagious strain of the virus. These included new plans for the return of schools in the New Year.

In East Ayrshire, schools and Early Childhood Centres (ECCs) will now reopen on Thursday 7 January 2021 but only for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children.

This arrangement will be in place until at least Friday 15 January with remote learning in place for all other school pupils from Monday 11 January.

Please note that this is a change to the previously published reopening date of 6 January as the Scottish Government have granted an exceptional closure day for pupils on 6 January 2021. 

School and ECC staff will return on 6 January to plan and prepare for the safe return of these children on 7 January and for the remote learning arrangements to commence from 11 January 2021. The current expectation is that from Monday 18 January 2021 onwards, schools will be open to all staff and pupils for in-person teaching and learning as normal, and operating within the existing guidance on reducing risks in schools and strategic framework protection levels. 

School and ECC staff and other agencies will work together to determine which children are considered to be vulnerable because of factors related to their personal development, features of their family life, or because of wider influences that impact on them within their community.

All parents and carers have been issued with a letter explaining these arrangements.

Early Learning and Childcare  

Similarly we expect all ECCs to reopen to all children from 18 January. We will provide you with updates on this in January. 

  • Childminders can stay open to all children and should operate in accordance with Level 4 guidance (or Level 3 in Island authorities)
  • Nurseries and all other childcare providers should open only to key workers and vulnerable children
  • Informal childcare can continue in accordance with Level 4 guidance (or Level 3 in Island authorities) 

Exam update, Tuesday 8 December

The Deputy First Minister John Swinney made a Ministerial Statement in the Scottish Parliament, on the education sector on Tuesday 8 December 2020.

As part of the announcement John Swinney said: “There will be no Higher or Advanced Higher exams in 2021. Instead we will adopt a new model that is based on the one developed for National 5 qualifications and make awards on teacher judgement of evidence of learner attainment. This approach is more flexible and takes account of the reality of the disruption so many pupils have already had to their learning.”

We will be writing to parents, carers and young people explaining what this will mean for them as quickly as possible. 

Level 3 update, Tuesday 8 December

East Ayrshire will move back to Level 3 on Friday 11 December at 18:00. 

Level 4 update, Tuesday 17 November

East Ayrshire has been placed within Level 4 by the Scottish Government. These restrictions will come into force on Friday 20 November at 18:00.

A letter from the Head of Education has been issued to young people, parents and carers detailing guidelines relating to Tier 4.

Letter to parents regarding Tier 4

Tier 3 update, Friday 30 October

In response to the rise in Covid-19 cases, the First Minister has introduced a Strategic Framework for managing and living with Covid-19 through the winter period and into next year.

The framework includes a 5-tier system of restrictions that start at Level 0.

On Thursday 29 October, East Ayrshire Council was placed in Level 3, this means that for: 

Primary Schools – indoor PE can start again; teachers and school staff need to wear a face covering in corridors, canteens and, very often, in classrooms; children must wear a face covering on school transport and parents and carers will be asked to wear a face covering when dropping off and collecting children from school.

Secondary Schools – indoor PE can start again; face coverings must be worn on transport and in communal school areas; senior phase pupils (S4-S6), that are not exempt, must wear a face covering in classrooms; senior phase pupils can continue to attend college courses; teaching areas within schools must be kept well-ventilated and windows will need to remain open throughout the day; teachers and school staff will wear face coverings in communal areas and when in close contact with young people.

NHS Ayrshire & Arran guidance for parents and carers

Now that schools and nurseries have returned, NHS Ayrshire & Arran want to provide some advice if your child has symptoms of the common cold or similar bugs during this pandemic:

What is a face covering?

A face covering covers the chin, mouth and nose and is not necessarily a medical face mask, but these can be worn.  A face covering is made of preferably two layers of cloth and should be washed nightly at 60 degrees or more, or in boiling water.

We are aware that some of our young people cannot and should not wear a face covering for extremely valid reasons. We expect that all other pupils will wear a face covering in the circumstances above, however, as per guidelines, no pupils will be excluded from education for not doing so. 

Return to school

Following the announcement from the Deputy First Minister regarding the return of schools, we are delighted to bring you more details on our plans to reinstate education for young people in East Ayrshire.

Wellbeing guide

Help and advice on supporting worries children might have about school.

School meals pre-order portal

From Wednesday 12 August 2020, our Catering Service will be introducing a Pre-order Portal for school meals in secondary schools. This can be accessed using an activation code which has been emailed to pupils' Glow accounts. Find out how to pre-order school meals on our school meals pre-order portal page.

Exam update, Friday 30 October

The Depute First Minister has confirmed that there will be no external coursework or examinations for National 5 courses with results being based on teacher judgement, supported by assessment resources and quality assurance.  Examinations at Higher and Advanced Higher levels are  currently being scheduled to take place, beginning on 13 May 2021. 

SQA will soon publish subject specific guidance on the work that learners need to complete for each course and level.  Public health advice will be reviewed at key checkpoints throughout the session up to the February break to assess the health situation and its impact on the plans for exams.

Allocation of early learning and childcare places

We have been in close contact with the Scottish Government throughout and are now in a position to confirm the allocation of places and parents and carers will receive direct contact from their centre.

Read the latest update on the allocation of early learning and childcare places.

Press releases

Read our press releases:

Critical childcare

On Thursday 23 July, the Deputy First Minister confirmed that the provision of critical childcare for key workers as part of the emergency response to COVID-19 can cease after Friday 31 July.

East Ayrshire Council has agreed to continue this provision in line with our original dates. This means that the final day for critical childcare provision in early childhood centres will be Thursday 6 August and for school-aged childcare it will be Friday 7 August. There will be no further access to Childcare Hubs beyond these dates and on that basis we will no longer be accepting new registrations for this provision. 

What about the safety of our schools and ECCs?

All schools and ECCs will receive a full clean prior to the children returning in August.

Since May we've been giving all educational establishments and Council premises have received an enhanced clean (Level 3) on a daily basis. This is a level of clean specifically designed to provide, not only a high level of cleaning, but a special focus on ‘touch points’ throughout the building.

The main bulk of the cleaning will be delivered before and after the school day, however this will be supported with regular ‘check cleaning’ and ‘touch point’ cleaning throughout the school day.

The use of Innu science products for cleaning across our schools allows us to provide cutting edge, long lasting and effective cleaning. These products minimise the risk of infection by leaving a protective layer on all surfaces. Along with traditional methods of cleaning these products are used in conjunction  with Electrostatic spray guns to ‘mist clean’ in public areas as required.

All Council buildings also undergo regular and rigorous quality assurance inspections to make sure standards are maintained.

Registered childminders

From 25 March all registered childminders have been told only to provide childcare for children of critical key workers.

Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP has written to each one of the near 200 registered Childminders in East Ayrshire via the Care Inspectorate registration system.  Read the letter from the Scottish Government (PDF 159Kb).

You can find the latest guidance on critical childcare provision for keyworkers on the Scottish Government website.

If you are a registered childminder affected by these closures you can find out about Scottish Government financial support on the Scottish Government website.

Funded providers 

Funded private and third sector providers can find out about Scottish Government financial support on their website.

What happens while my child is not at school/ECC? 

All other children and young people will continue to receive educational input via online platforms such as Glow. School and centre staff will also be providing updates to you via the school app and other communication tools. Schools and ECCs will keep in contact with you and your family via regular communications to maintain the already great sense of community and togetherness in our schools and ECCs.

You can also receive regular email updates on education by signing up with our StayConnected system and selecting topics that interest you.

School transport invoices

Due to the schools closing on Friday 20 March 2020, it has been confirmed that subsidised school transport invoices will be credited for the time that they are closed.

Parents and carers are asked to cancel any standing orders for their school transport invoices.

All debt recovery has been suspended on these invoices until further notice.

We will be in touch with parents and carers soon regarding overpayments or underpayments.

School updates

We will make sure that all parents, carers and staff are kept informed with information about their child’s school/ECC by using the following platforms:

We thank all parents, carers and pupils for their understanding in these exceptional circumstances.

Useful links

Scottish Government

UK Government

Other links

Contact Information

Council Headquarters
London Road
East Ayrshire
Contact us online:
Save time, do it online:
Telephone: 01563 554400
Textphone: 01563 576167
24 Hour Emergency Helpline: 0345 724 0000 (local rate)
Education Service
Council Headquarters
London Road
Telephone: 01563 576140
Parental Enquiries: 07392 864105

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