Schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings will look and feel different when the new term starts because of measures we've had to put in place to keep children and employees safe.
To help you and your children understand what to expect, we’ve prepared this information, with support from the National Parent Forum of Scotland's Back to School Guidance.
If you require any further information regarding the new term or your child’s return to school, please contact your school or ELC setting directly.
Guidance for higher and further education establishments is available on the Scottish Government website.
Early Learning and Childcare
Some ELC settings are already open.
- All ELC establishments will fully re-open to returning children from Wednesday 12 August.
- Letters have been issued to all parents to confirm individual children's arrangements.
More guidance for ELC is available on the Parent Club website.
Primary and Secondary schools
Primary and Secondary pupils will have a short phased period of return from the 12 to 14 August, with all returning full-time from Monday 17 August.
There are no plans for children to spend part of the school week learning from home. Teachers may give homework to children as usual. This is not instead of learning in school.
The Scottish Government have advised how to plan for, and manage, the return to school. It recommends that schools focus on pupil wellbeing, particularly at first, because of how long, and the circumstances in which, pupils have been away from school.
Additional Support Needs schools
Children attending Primary Wings, Primary ASC units, Secondary ASC units, Carrongrange High School and Windsor Park School will have a short phased period of return from 12 to 14 August with all returning full-time from Monday 17 August.
Parents/Carers of children who attend Inclusion and Wellbeing Service have been advised of the arrangements for a phased return from 12 August.
Health, wellbeing and emotional support
Many children and their parents are anxious about going back to school. This is natural. If you or your child feel anxious for extended periods, and you or they are finding it difficult to cope, there is help on offer. In the first instance, please contact your school or ELC to discuss your concerns and seek support.
Some children may need extra support because they are having to deal with significant issues as a result of the pandemic, including bereavement or a parent losing their job.
For more information on supporting you and your child's health and wellbeing, and dealing with stress and anxiety please see our Educational Psychological Service Blog.
Because children are returning to school full-time, 'blended learning' (a mix of learning in school and at home) is not needed.
If it is ever not safe for children to be in school full-time, all necessary measures will be taken. This could be on a national or local basis. It could mean using 'blended learning' temporarily. Scientific and health advice will continue to be followed to ensure children are kept safe. This will be in line with the Scottish Government’s test and protect approach to monitoring and controlling the virus.
Children with health conditions or who are shielding
The Scottish Government expects all children to return to school, as usual. Children are at much lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19 than adults. They are also less likely to pass the virus to other people.
Children who are shielding should be able to return to school in August, unless their GP or healthcare provider says that they shouldn't.
If this changes at all, schools will provide education remotely, in line with duties to provide education elsewhere than a school when a child is unable to attend school due to ill health.
If you have any concerns about a child with health conditions or who is shielding, speak to your child's school or their healthcare team.
Keeping children and adults safe
The Scottish Government guidance gives the basis for local plans. Measures will include:
- Hygiene and cleanliness procedures such as more frequent cleaning of buildings and regular hand washing for pupils and staff
- Reducing contact between children and adults where possible
- Ensuring that rooms and other areas are well ventilated
- Reducing the number of surfaces that children and adults have to touch while moving around school buildings
- Making best use of space within our school buildings
- Introducing one-way systems between classrooms and around the school where possible and practical
- Reducing how often children need to move around school buildings, such as staggering break and lunchtimes
- Timetabling classes to reduce the need for children and young people to move around and mix with other classes
- Increasing the amount of outdoor learning
PPE and face coverings
In most circumstances, face coverings or other PPE will not be needed when in school. But, anyone in your child's school (child or adult) who wishes to wear a face covering is allowed to do so. Children or adults who need to wear face coverings or other PPE for clinical reasons will be supported to do so. This may include wearing a face mask, a face covering and/or a visor.
If the number of COVID-19 cases in Scotland starts rising again, nationally or in local areas, your child’s school may ask school staff and older young people in secondary schools to wear face coverings in school. Your child’s school will let you know about these and any other changes.
Where possible, school bags should not be brought to school. If they are, they must be placed on the floor and not on desks in the classrooms.
To minimise the sharing of stationery or books between school and home, schools have prepared packs of materials for each pupil to use while they are in school. This means that your child does not need to bring a pencil case or other stationery. This will be kept under review and your school will notify you of any changes.
Where possible, consideration should be given to using disposable packaging instead of sending a lunch box. However, if this is not possible a lunch box can be used. We ask that this is wiped down on entry to the school, after use at lunch time and prior to be taken home.
Additional Support Needs equipment
Technology, learning, visual, hearing aids or mobility equipment that the child uses at both home and school can continue to be brought into school, it must not be shared with others and it requires to be cleaned on arrival and prior to it going home by a nominated member of staff who will wear appropriate PPE for this task.
Some physical distancing may be needed at times. This could include keeping children within the same small groups and avoiding assemblies. Physical distancing will be used where it is appropriate to do so, as it will help to reduce risks. The age of children and the stage they are at will be taken into account.
Children in ELC will not have to 'physically distance' or stay 1 or 2 metres apart from one another while in school.
Adults in ELC will not need to physically distance from children they are caring for. ELC practitioners can play with children, help them with activities (including hand washing) or give them a cuddle if they need one.
Children in primary schools will not have to physically distance or stay 1 or 2 metres apart from one another while in school.
Wherever possible, there will be a physical distance of 2 metres between adults and children. This is because adults are at greater risk than children from the virus.
This 2 metre requirement may not apply to younger primary school children (P1 and P2) or children with additional support needs who may need personal or intimate care. There will still be measures to keep them and their carers at home and school safe.
Because the evidence on physical distancing is less clear for older children (aged 12 and above) your child’s school will encourage distancing, where possible, between them and other young people and between all young people and adults.
Monitoring the virus and preventing outbreaks
Schools, ELC settings and councils will keep a close eye on things. They'll take immediate action if anyone connected to the school/ELC community develops symptoms of the virus to prevent any outbreaks from spreading. If there is an outbreak at your child’s school or ELC setting, they will contact you as soon as possible.
Schools and nurseries are 'complex settings’ under the Health Protection Scotland ‘test and protect’ approach. This means that schools will be a priority for identifying, testing and supporting the self-isolation of any children or staff suspected of having the virus.
You should also look out for symptoms in your own family.
The most common symptoms are:
- New continuous cough
- Fever/high temperature (37.8℃ or above)
- Loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
If you think that you, your children or a member of your family may have COVID-19 you should follow the latest NHS guidance.
If you suspect your child has any of the symptoms or if they display symptoms while attending our establishments, they will be need to self-isolate at home in line NHS guidance, unless they can provide evidence that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
If you suspect your child has any of the symptoms described above, or they present with symptoms in school, then they should remain at home and not attend their ELC or school for 10 days or until they have been tested and can present the certificate confirming a negative COVID-19 result. You should follow the guidance from NHS.
Learning and the curriculum
There are no plans for schools to teach a reduced curriculum or to provide fewer subject choices or learning opportunities than they used to.
Because this has been a difficult time, particularly for children. It might mean that your child’s school will reintroduce formal schoolwork in stages. Your child’s school will decide what’s best for its pupils and adjust its approach as needed.
Early learning and childcare
Children in ELC will have much the same experience as they did before lockdown. There might be some changes. For example, soft toys or furnishings may be replaced by items that are easier to clean. There will be a greater focus on hand washing. Children might spend more time outdoors. Your child might be allocated a group, to help to limit the number of contacts they have.
Primary school pupils
Most primary pupils will learn, as far as possible, in the same way as they did before lockdown. The main differences for younger children will be in the surroundings and extra hand washing and hygiene. There may be more lessons outside and different ways of using the building space. Teachers will make sure that your children are supported as much as possible for their return to school and settling into the new term.
S1 to S3 pupils
Most pupils in S1 to S3 will continue to study the same subjects and course content as they would have done before lockdown. There may be some additional measures for some subjects. For example, for practical activities where pupils share equipment, teachers are planning lessons to allow this safely. School timetables are being planned so that children move around buildings and classrooms less during the school day.
S4 to S6 senior phase pupils and subject choice
Most senior phase pupils have already chosen their subjects. These should not be limited because of virus restrictions, although there may be some extra safety measures for practical subjects. If you (or your child) have any concerns about what’s to happen with a particular subject or your child’s progress, contact your school to discuss.
Schools and teachers are doing all they can to make sure that children have the chance to learn and succeed in the subjects they want to do.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) plans a full timetable of SQA exams and coursework for 2021. The SQA will continue to see what’s needed to help make the most of learning and teaching time over the school year. Plans will also take account of any changes to public health advice which could affect exam timetables and arrangements. There will be further guidelines from the SQA before the start of term.
Practical activities, sport and music
Practical, 'hands-on’ learning and activities, experiments and investigations are an important part of many subjects. Your child’s teachers will adapt how they teach lessons to allow children and young people to do such activities safely.
Sport and physical activities are important for children’s physical and mental health now and in the future. Your child’s school is planning how it can best use outside space to allow children to do sport and physical activities in line with national guidance (indoor sports facilities can’t be used for now).
Scientific and medical advice is still being developed for safely returning to activities such as singing, talking loudly (for example in drama), or playing wind/brass instruments. So, your child may not be able to do these activities at the start of term. The school may offer other options.
Reporting on children’s progress
Your child’s school will keep you up to date with your child’s progress through report cards, phoning you or notes in homework tasks and jotters.
Parents evenings may be done differently during the next school term. Your child’s school will let you know about arrangements for these.
ELC settings may not be able to speak with parents face-to-face as usual, but will use other ways to keep you up to date such as by phone and online journals.
Childcare and clubs
If your child attends any after school clubs or wraparound childcare, these services should contact you to let you know about any new arrangements and safety measures.
There's more detail to come on other out of school activities such as sports clubs, bands and choirs. If you want to find out more about the clubs or activities that your child attends, contact your child’s school.
Childminders who wish to continue providing childminding services can do so.
Childminders must follow public health advice and assess for risks before they re-start their services.
Children do not have to stay physically distant from each other or from the childminder when attending childminding services.
Childminders can pick children up from school.
Parents or carers will have limited access to the childminding setting. This may mean that the childminder makes different arrangements with you for picking up or dropping off your child.
We have set out guidance for transport to and from school on a dedicated page.
What if there's another national or local lockdown?
Schools, ELC settings and councils are planning so that, if there is another outbreak (local or national), there will be arrangements, at short notice, to keep children safe and to ensure that they can continue with their learning.
If there’s a local outbreak affecting your child’s school, the school, local authorities and local health protection teams will decide what action to take. This may include temporarily closing your child’s school to help control the spread of the virus. Schools will then use blended or home learning.
- Preparing online resources such as digital classrooms
- Ensuring that IT equipment is available for children and families who may need it
- Arranging for some settings to stay open for vulnerable children and children of key workers if schools have to change how they do things for a while
- Preparing for new physical distancing measures if needed
What can parents and carers do to help?
This has been a difficult time for parents, teachers and pupils. Parents and carers have juggled work and caring responsibilities, and supported their children's learning, wellbeing and safety. This next period will be difficult too. The safety arrangements mean changes to how schools and ELC settings work. Everyone will need time to get used to them.
You can contact the school, ELC or Council if you want to discuss any issues about your child’s education.
Parents and carers are keen to know what they can do to support their child’s education and school. The main things you can do are:
- Ask your child how they are feeling about going back to school
- Give them as much information as possible
- Encourage them to talk about their worries
- Highlight anything to the school in good time
- Explain to your child what might be different at their school or ELC setting
- Explain and stress hygiene and safety arrangements
- Encourage your child (depending on their age) to take some responsibility for personal hygiene, such as hand washing and using sanitiser, and to be aware of their surroundings
- Reassure your child that these are to keep them, their teachers and their friends safe