The Council has been working to Scottish Government guidelines throughout lockdown and has been following this closely to ensure that any return is safe and that our children, young people and staff are protected.
Detailed and extensive plans have been developed by working groups that involve Headteachers, employees from across the Council, trade unions, Parent Councils, professional associations and Pupil Councils, ensuring that all voices are being heard as the Council moves towards phased reopening.
Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Head of Education said: “Through partnership working we have now reached agreement on the return to school model for East Ayrshire. The safety and wellbeing of our young people, staff and their families has been central to our plans and to the model that has now been developed for phased reopening.
“We have put practical measures in place, including establishing cleaning routines to support the prevention of any Covid-19 spread. Shared materials have been removed from classrooms, risk assessments have been completed, child friendly social distancing communications have been developed to support the 2m rule and individual schools have planned for safe arrival and pick up of pupils.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach in East Ayrshire, every school is different. The staff in each school know their school, their pupils and their parents and carers. It was essential that each school developed their own model for a phased return and they will contact parents and carers shortly with school-specific communications and information about their own model for return.
“The attendance models for all schools have been agreed at a consistent level to ensure equity for all learners and full consideration has been given to how we support our more vulnerable children and young people. Due to particular needs of children and young people in our specialist sector schools, these arrangements will be communicated on a school by school basis.”
From Wednesday 12 August, the following arrangements will be in place:
Primary School Pupils
Children will attend school two days per week (or equivalent).
Some children in a vulnerable situation may attend more often.
Full details will be released to parents and carers by individual schools.
Secondary School Pupils
The attendance model for secondary schools is more complex due to the significant differences in schools roll, capacity and staffing for specific subjects. A phased approach has been devised to protect the full school community and the wellbeing of young people.
From Wednesday 12 August to Friday 26 August – young people will attend one day per week (or equivalent), with enhancement for senior phase pupils that will be communicated by individual schools.
This model ensures schools can test a full timetable before increasing the number of days pupils can attend, as some schools are offering a two-week rotation.
Week beginning Monday 31 August, pupils will attend two days per week, subject to review, and again enhancements will be in place for senior pupils.
Linda McAulay-Griffiths added: “I know that many parents would like to see their children and young people returning to school as normal come August, but this is not currently possible. I also want to make it clear that this is a dynamic situation and that we will continue to be guided by the Scottish Government and Public Health throughout the coming weeks. When they decide it safe to increase attendance we will be ready to implement new plans as quickly as possible.”
Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “In East Ayrshire we are planning a blended approach of in-school and learning at home and outdoor learning will be used wherever possible. Staff will provide tasks and activities to be carried out at home and these will be set by teachers while children and young people are at school as part of their learning experience. We are currently preparing supplementary information for all parents and carers, which will be available in the new school term, to explain how this will work.
“We have gathered together teams with different skills and expertise to plan for the return of pupils. This includes physical changes to buildings, cleaning, health and safety measures but it also focuses on the wellbeing of our children and young people who may have struggled through lockdown and feel anxious at the thought of returning to school.
“East Ayrshire Psychological Services has been supporting individual schools throughout lockdown providing psychological advice on issues including bereavement, school connectedness and wellbeing. They are working to ensure that staff, children and young people are supported as they return to school, helping to ensure that environments are as emotionally safe as possible. The service is also working with schools to help meet the needs of children and young people who are, or who have, experienced developmental trauma providing additional support to the most vulnerable.
“We all want to go back to normal, but that just isn’t possible at the moment. What we can do is work together to create a safe and positive learning environment for our children and young people.”