Updates on safe reopening of schools

The City of Edinburgh Council has issued further information for the safe reopening of its schools in August – including a detailed Q & A for parents.

Over 70 frequently asked questions and answers has been published on the Council website with details on how to access them sent to parents in the city. They cover a wide range of commonly asked questions under a series of headings:

• arrangements for reopening of schools
• the curriculum and blended learning
• childcare and support for children, young people and families
• support for staff
• cleaning, protective measures and infection control
• getting to school and physical distancing

Specific areas the questions relate to include: personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene requirements in schools, physical distancing measures, digital and blended learning, school hours, pupils with additional support needs, school meals, exams and parents’ evenings.

Everyone at the Council, and staff across our schools, are working flat out to maximise the number of children and young people who can return to school as safely as possible. A key part of this is considering all appropriate available space in the city and speaking to our partners.

Challenges we face include the 2 metre physical distancing, especially given Edinburgh’s unique rising rolls situation with many of our schools at capacity making physical distancing difficult, and the budget restrictions caused by the financial implications of the lockdown across all Council areas.

However, the Scottish Government announced last week that they are willing to look at specific proposals for additional funding and we’ll be submitting our plans to them later this week.
Other areas the Council will be considering going forward are improved home learning, maximising opportunities for holistic learning and support, from outdoor learning to wider youthwork and after school learning and childcare.

Councillor Ian Perry, Education Convener, said: "Parents have of course many questions about the plans being put in place for the safe reopening of schools and these latest updates will help address some of the queries raised around areas such as PPE, physical distancing and blended learning.

"One of the most common issues being discussed is around increasing the numbers of pupils we can get back in schools as safely as possible. I want to reassure parents that everyone in the Council is working flat out to achieve this. We’re exploring every possible avenue by looking at appropriate building capacity in the city including using other venues, employing more teachers and maximising outdoor learning opportunities.

"Two of the significant challenges we face are the current health guidelines for the 2 metre physical distancing rule and the unique situation Edinburgh has with our rising school rolls.  There’s no doubt in my mind that reducing the 2 metre rule would make reaching the 50% target a lot more achievable.”

Cllr Alison Dickie, Education Vice Convener, said: “We fully understand parents’ concerns and although this is an ever-changing situation, it is important that we communicate with parents as we move forward together. There is still more work to be done to deliver 50% attendance but everyone is working to achieve the same goal of getting every child and young person back to school where they belong.

“The focus of our plan has always been to deliver quality learning and teaching in a safe and equitable way, and to ensure there are whole school days and same family groups as requested by parents. We also want parents to know that we’re looking at childcare, opportunities for wider community learning and support and improved home learning. And most of all, that the wellbeing of our children and young people will be at the heart of all learning on their return to school.

“Nothing matters more than getting our schools back up and running but this comes at a significant financial cost. We greatly welcome the Scottish Government’s announcement that they are willing to look at specific proposals for additional funding. This will help our determined push towards 50% attendance and we’ll be submitting our plans to them later this week.”

The list of frequently asked questions and answers is not an exhaustive list and will be updated.

Published: June 22nd 2020