COVID-19 school updates

Secondary schools

Every school in the Scottish Borders is different. Along with ourselves, each leadership team have looked at various factors to produce a plan with a clear rationale for a safe and meaningful experience for young people across the 14 day period leading up to the Easter break.

We have had to work within all Scottish Government guidelines, including the need for 2 metre social distancing, to assess physical capacities and layouts, staffing and timetables as well as transport provision.

General arrangements are set out below but schools will contact parents/carers to confirm the details of which year groups/classes will attend on each day.

Arrangements for S4-S6

Young people within the Senior Phase have been given priority for in-school learning. This will ensure that they have a secure foundation and coverage of different courses prior to any formal assessment for qualifications taking place in the later stages of the 2020/21 academic session.

It is expected that pupils in S4- S6 will each attend for at least two days a week and in this time will have an extended lesson with their usual teacher for each subject studied.

Pupils will continue to learn from home for the remainder of the week.

Arrangements for S1-S3

Almost all young people in S1-3 will have at least a full day in school each week. This time will be planned to provide a transition from full-time home learning back to full-time ‘in school’ learning after Easter. Young people will have time to reconnect with the school community, re-establish routines and have face-to-face learning experiences within different curricular areas.

All plans have an element of flexibility which will ensure that if there is need for more time for a particular class, group or subject, this can be considered in consultation with teaching staff.

All young people will continue with home learning when not in school, however the complexity of timetabling groups in school will affect the frequency and times of ‘live’ learning engagements. 

Pupils will be provided with guidance on home learning when in school and use of online platforms to support the ongoing programmes of learning.

Transport

School transport routes will mainly run as normal and any minor changes to individual routes will be communicated directly from schools. 

There has been a helpful change to the guidance on school transport which means a space is required between passengers rather than a specified distance. This allows some additional capacity in the vehicles, however there are still some routes where schools have had to ask for parent support in transporting pupils. We are grateful for this help and have attempted to keep additional traffic around schools to a minimum.

Available seats on buses will be clearly marked out.

Face coverings

Face coverings are required to be worn at all times by all pupils and staff in the school building and on transport.  If your child is exempt from wearing a face covering please ensure that the school is informed of this. Lanyards will be provided for these pupils to avoid them being challenged. We expect all other pupils to comply with this requirement and in order to ensure the safety of other members of the school community, any young person refusing to wear a covering may be required to have additional limits on movements within the school considered.

Outside school grounds

Pupils will be allowed to leave the campus under usual school arrangements at lunchtime. Scottish Government guidance allows a relaxation of the need to socially distance outdoors. Schools will however be reminding pupils of the need to ensure that the local community are not given cause for concern about their behaviour when out of school and the national guidance such as wearing face coverings in shops and sticking to groups of no more than four people will be expected.

Ventilation/working outdoors

Ventilation is still a key measure to reduce the transmission of the virus and as well as continuing to have windows open, schools will be making use of the outdoors whenever possible. Pupils should come to school with suitable clothing for lower temperatures or being outdoors.

COVID-19 testing

Lateral flow tests will be offered to all S4-6 students when they return from 15 March. We strongly encourage participation in the twice weekly testing which is an important factor in keeping the number of cases of the virus low.  After the Easter break, testing will also be offered to pupils in S1-3.  Full details around this will be shared by your school.

Thank you

Inevitably some young people and their families will be feeling a bit anxious about returning to school. We would like reassure everyone that meticulous planning has been taking place to enable us to provide a safe return for all our pupils and staff while prioritising attendance in school according to young people’s needs.

We are making sure that our plans take into account all updated national guidance and that we have all necessary risk assessments, processes and procedures in place to keep the schools COVID-free. However, please remember that support is available to you and your child, and do not hesitate to contact your school if you have any worries or concerns.

As we take this next step towards the very welcome return of our young people, we would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you for the incredible efforts you have made to support your children in their home learning. We sincerely hope this is the last lockdown we will experience but we are keen to continue to develop the digital approaches we have all learned through this experience. We will be sending surveys to all parents/carers and to all pupils to capture your feedback on the remote learning experience and encourage everyone to give your views when this comes.

Arrangements for the full return after the holidays will be sent to parents/carers before the end of term.