An update on the phased opening of schools during January and February from Steven Quinn, the director of children’s services on Tuesday 5 January 2021
Dear Parent or Carer
Following the most recent COVID announcement by the First Minister on Monday 4 January 2021, I wanted to provide you with the most up to date information prior to the start of term.
It has now been confirmed that schools and nurseries will remain closed for the majority of pupils until Monday 1 February. This will be reviewed by the Scottish Government in the middle of January. All of our schools and nurseries will remain open for children of key workers and for those children who social work and school teams determine are vulnerable and in need of a place.
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.
Update on reopening dates
School and nursery staff will return on Wednesday 6 January to plan the support needed for remote learning and make necessary arrangements for the children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people.
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
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 1 February. This will be reviewed by the Scottish Government in mid-January.
Out of school care can continue for children of key workers and vulnerable children and young people if providers are able to open. 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
The application process for key workers has now closed.
If you applied and met all the criteria in the application form (all parents/carers are key workers, all parents/carers are unable to work from home and no alternative childcare is possible), then you will be allocated a space and you should send your child to school as normal on Thursday 7 January. If your child gets school transport, then this will be available as normal.
If you did not meet all the criteria, unfortunately we are unable to offer you a place. If you have any questions, please contact your school from Wednesday 6 January.
If your circumstances have changed and you now require a space, please contact your child’s school directly.
If applying for a space, parents/carers 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.
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 this week to let you know the arrangements for your child.
If you do not have access to a device and/or internet access, please contact the school directly for support.
Advice for those who were shielding
Children and young people who are on the ‘shielding list’ should not attend school or nursery during this lockdown period.
Children and young people who are shielding will learn remotely at home and our schools and nurseries will provide support. 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.
Normal school meal provision will be available for children 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 from Monday 11 January, we will seek to make a financial payment in lieu of providing a free school meal.
Thank you for your continued patience and support.
Director of Children’s Services