Coronavirus (Covid-19) Updates

Schools and early childhood centres

Caring kind connected logoCoronavirus (COVID-19) updates on what's happening in East Ayrshire schools and early childhood centres

School closures

The Scottish Government announced that schools and early childhood centres should close to children and young people on Friday 20 March 2020 with the exception of any critical provision to protect certain key interests and groups.

At the moment we cannot confirm how long that closure will last, however we will make sure that all parents, carers and staff will be kept informed. We will be providing regular updates on:

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

Who are our schools and Early Childhood Centres (ECCs) open to? 

We are now using our  educational facilities as Key Worker Hubs, offering childcare to children of key workers whose work is vital to the national response to COVID-19.

Hub arrangements for the Easter Holidays

Since Monday 23 March, we have been offering a childcare hub service to key worker families and vulnerable children.

We have been working with Out of School Care providers and other services such as Vibrant Communities and East Ayrshire Leisure Trust to make sure that we can continue to provide this Hub provision during the Easter holidays. This will include the Easter weekend wherever possible.

From Monday 6 April we will run Key Worker Hubs at these centres:

  • Auchinleck Primary and ECC
  • Bellsbank Primary and ECC
  • Drongan Primary and ECC
  • Galston Primary and ECC
  • Gargieston Primary and ECC
  • Hillbank ECC
  • James Hamilton Primary and ECC
  • Kilmaurs Primary and ECC
  • Nether Robertland Primary and ECC
  • Onthank ECC
  • PEACE Out of School Care at Onthank
  • Bellfield Out of School Care at Whatriggs Primary
  • Lainshaw Lions Out of School Care at The Centre

If your child is registered for this service you will be sent an email with a new link to update your registration and tell us which days you need childcare over the Easter holiday period. 

Key workers

The following people are designated as “key workers” which means they can access child care services at schools and ECCs across East Ayrshire from Monday 23 March 2020:

  • NHS staff
  • Emergency Services staff
  • Health and Social Care staff
  • Education and childcare staff
  • Those involved in food production, distribution and sales
  • Postal Workers
  • Prison staff
  • Employees of GlaxoSmithKline in North Ayrshire
  • Essential East Ayrshire Council employees who have already been officially notified by their manager
  • Members of the Armed Forces
  • People employed in the Funeral Services sector

Please remember that the closure of schools is part of the effort to reduce social contact and that hubs should only be used by essential staff who have no other options for childcare. 

We appreciate that many parents are concerned about key worker status. The guidance we have received from the Scottish Government is "if one parent is a key worker and the other is not, the non-key worker should normally be expected to provide childcare. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.”

UK Government guidance varies slightly from this. It says if only one parent is a key worker, you can send your children to school if required. In light of this contradictory position, we will deal with each case on its merits. If there is no other childcare option then we would look for confirmation of this. 

We want to do all we can to support key workers. We need them to look after those who are going to get sick and to keep our vital services running, but we also need to avoid social contact so, if  you are a key worker and can make any other arrangements for your children, we ask you to please do so.

We are also providing a service for some of our most vulnerable children identified by professionals in a multi-agency approach.    

The service being provided is not a continuation of normal educational provision and is being supported by colleagues from other Council teams such as Vibrant Communities staff.   

We respectfully ask that other parents/carers do not send their young people to our hubs, as clearly the measures in place are designed to support critical services and vulnerable young people in addressing this pandemic. If you feel that your job/role meets the criteria but is not listed, please discuss this directly with your child’s school/ ECC.  

Where are our key worker hubs?

We’d like to thank all those parents/carers who have heeded advice and managed to arrange their own childcare, allowing us to concentrate on providing a service only for those children who are vulnerable or whose parents/carers are frontline key workers with no alternative available.

This means we can focus our attention on:

  • Nether Robertland PS and Early Childhood Centre
  • Hillbank
  • Whatriggs PS and Early Childhood Centre
  • Onthank Early Childhood Centre

One of our funded early years providers is still open for children of keyworkers:

  • Dean Park Nursery

Register for our hubs

To use our hubs, please fill in our e-form so that we have your details logged in advance of your child’s arrival. Remember we need to reduce social contact, and even if you are a key worker, please only send your child as a last resort and if you absolutely need to. No child will be turned away from this revised provision, providing they have been registered. 

One of our colleagues will contact you if you do not qualify for a keyworker place.

We have listed the available hubs above, and meals will be provided to those pupils on site. All school transport has now also been withdrawn.

Transport

Now that the Key Worker Hub system is in place, with low numbers attending and health protection issues, we can no longer offer a school transport service. You should make sure that your children are transported to the appropriate location.  The Hubs are open from 9.00am-3.00pm, unless otherwise guaranteed by an ECC provision. 

We thank you for your co-operation. It allows us to continue offering childcare at this time for our critical keyworkers.

What about food provision?

  • All pupils attending our hubs will receive lunch. 
  • We have 19 hubs open for food production and distribution which offer a mixture of packed lunches and meals.
  • We now deliver to all those who have registered online.
  • An online booking form is available to register for this service. This service is for families who qualify for income based Free School Meals and does not apply to P1-3 pupils unless they have also been awarded income based Free School Meals
  • Community food provision is also available from Vibrant Communities, providing a range of options including microwave meals, lunches, packed lunches and dry goods lunch boxes. Find out more on our food provision page

If you have any queries about meal provision, please call 01563 554400.

Frequently asked questions about food

Please also see our frequently asked questions about emergency family meals.

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.

What about the safety of our schools and ECCs?

All our hubs are be operating the recommended social distancing guidance in both dining and classroom settings and encouraging regular handwashing. Our facilities teams have already adopted new cleaning regimens and protocols and we have made sure that there are adequate supplies of cleaning products and handwashing products.      

School crossing patrollers

School crossing patrollers have been stood down until further notice.

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. You can read the letter here

You can find the latest guidance on critical childcare provision for keyworkers here 

If you are a registered childminder affected by these closures you can find out about Scottish Government financial support here

Funded providers 

Funded private and third sector providers can find out about Scottish Government financial support here

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.

SQA update for senior pupils 

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has launched a useful page of guidance for all senior pupils who were due to sit SQA exams this year. You can keep up with the latest advice on the SQA website.

SQA has also published a list of Frequently Asked Questions to give learners, parents, and carers answers to some common questions about how we they will deliver a fair, safe and secure set of results over the coming months. It will be updated regularly you can read the SQA FAQs here.

Exams - advice for senior phase students

SQA examinations will not take place this year. We have issued this letter to reassure all pupils who are affected.  This includes some useful Frequently Asked Questions:

Yes, your achievements in each of your courses will be recognised. The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) will ask your teachers to provide an estimate grade for each of your courses based on your achievement in coursework and assessments. This includes your achievements in assessments throughout the year and not only on your prelim examination performance.

Support will be in place in your school for you to complete any coursework and will continue even after the schools close. Please discuss this with your school. 

Please contact your school to discuss this. We will support you to complete coursework from home.

Yes, you will. The SQA have explained to us that you will receive results no later than 4 August 2020 as planned.

Exams - advice for parents/carers

We have sent a letter to all parents and carers of young people who attend our schools and early childhood centres (ECCs). This includes the following Frequently Asked Questions:

What is happening about SQA Examinations?

The SQA exams for summer 2020 have been cancelled.  We are working on continuity of provision for our Senior Phase pupils (S4-6) and secondary schools will contact parents/carers direct to notify them of these arrangements around completion of coursework. Certification of all SQA qualifications will go ahead, and will be based on both predicted attainment, coursework and assessment throughout the year. Certification will not be based solely on prelim performance. 

Predictions

Teachers have further work to do on these predictions and this is currently in progress. Schools do not have the final outcomes at this point therefore, and we ask parents and carers not to contact schools for the predictions at this crucial time. They are not yet available.

    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
    Kilmarnock
    East Ayrshire
    KA3 7BU
    Contact us online: www.eastayrshi.re/contactus
    Save time, do it online: www.our.east-ayrshire.gov.uk
    Telephone: 01563 554400
    Textphone: 01563 576167
    24 Hour Emergency Helpline: 0345 724 0000 (local rate)
    Education Service
    Council Headquarters
    London Road
    Kilmarnock
    KA3 7BU
    Telephone: 01563 576140
    Parental Enquiries: 07392 864105