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Message to Parents and Carers on the Reopening of Schools and Nurseries in January 2021

Dear Parent or Carer 

I wanted to update you with more detail on arrangements for the phased reopening of our schools and nurseries following Scottish Government’s announcement that they will not reopen as previously planned in the new year. I know this is yet more upheaval following an incredibly challenging year and I want you to know that your child’s learning and wellbeing remains our biggest priority.  

Our schools and nurseries continue to follow all national guidance to ensure that our children and young people, their families and our staff are safe and feel confident in their environment. Since children and young people returned in August, our schools and nurseries have worked incredibly hard to ensure everyone’s safety and we have robust safety and hygiene measures in place. They have also worked with NHS public health and the council’s environmental health teams to ensure that all close contacts of anyone who tests positive for covid-19 are identified and asked to self-isolate.  

During the festive break, arrangements have been put in place to ensure that we continue to support NHS Test and Protect to identify close contacts while also allowing our school and nursery staff to take a well-deserved break. If your child is identified as a close contact during this period, staff from Renfrewshire Council children’s services or environment health teams will contact you to advise that your child should self-isolate.  

Our teams have worked incredibly hard over the last few days since the Scottish Government announcement was made and I can now provide you with the current approach based on the Scottish Government’s guidance on arrangements to reopen schools in January

Update on reopening dates 

School and nursery staff will return on Wednesday 6 January to plan the supports needed for remote learning and arrangements for the children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people. This additional day is needed because our schools and nurseries had already closed when Scottish Government made the announcement that schools would have a phased reopening in January.  

From Thursday 7 January, schools and nurseries will reopen only for vulnerable children and young people and children of key workers. All other children and young people will remain on holiday until Monday 11 January in line with the extension to the school holidays for all Scottish mainland schools. 

Remote learning will begin for the majority of children and young people on Monday 11 January. 

Children and young people are expected to return to school and nursery on Monday 18 January. Scottish Government will confirm this date as part of their review process for Level 4 protective measures.  

Out of school care can continue for children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people if providers are able to do so. You should contact your provider directly to ask what services they will be providing in January. 

Private nurseries can remain open for children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people. If your child attends one of our funded private provider nurseries, please get in touch with them directly to confirm the arrangements that they will have in place in January. 

Arrangements for key workers 

To help us assess the number of key workers children who will require support between Thursday 7 and Friday 15 January, we are asking all key workers who meet the following criteria to apply using our online application form. Since some time has passed since the last national lockdown, we are unable to use the previous data.  

Parents must meet these criteria: 

  • your job meets key worker status 
  • you and your child’s other parent are both key workers or you are a single parent and a key worker 
  • you and your child’s other parent cannot work from home or you are a single parent and cannot work from home 
  • you have no alternative childcare. 

A key worker is defined as: 

  • Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID-19 response, and associated staff; Health and Care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; Energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning for other category 1 staff
  • all other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (for example: fire, police, prisons, social workers), as well as those supporting our Critical National Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused
  • all workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised). 

Teachers, nursery officers and support staff and others supporting schools and nurseries, such as school office staff and catering, cleaning and janitorial staff, are included in the above criteria as key workers.  

Applications are open and we ask you to apply, where possible, by Thursday 24 December at 1pm to enable us to confirm placements. All applications will close on the Tuesday 4 January at 5pm.  The application form itself will confirm whether a place will be available or not. 

Parents of vulnerable children and young people do not need to apply – our schools and nurseries will contact them directly to assess the supports needed. 

Remote learning 

From Monday 11 January, all children and young people who are at home will have access to remote learning. Your child’s school or nursery will be in touch with you on Wednesday 6 or Thursday 7 January to let you know the arrangements for your child.   

Advice for those who were shielding 

Children and young people who previously came under the ‘shielding list’ should not attend school or nursery while Renfrewshire is in Level 4 protective measures without a risk assessment informed by the clinical team caring for them. This includes any child of a key worker.  

Children and young people who are shielding will learn remotely at home and our schools and nurseries will be there to support them. The Chief Medical Officer will also write out to everyone in this shielding category with further advice. 

If you are unsure if your child is in the shielding category, please speak to your medical consultant or GP for advice. 

Transport and school meals 

If your child receives home to school transport, this will continue as normal for children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people from Thursday 7 January. When schools and nurseries return, home to school transport will be available as normal for all children and young people who normally receive this service.  

School meals will be available for children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people attending school. Free school meals will be available to any child or young person who is entitled to receive one. 

For any child or young person who is entitled to a free school meal and is learning remotely during the week beginning Monday 11 January, we will seek to make a financial payment in lieu of providing a free school meal.  

You can find the latest information and advice on the council’s website. These pages will be updated regularly and provide the most up-to-date information.  

Thank you for your continued patience and support. I hope you and your family have a well-deserved and relaxing festive break. 

Yours sincerely 

Steven Quinn 

Director of Children’s Services

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