COVID-19 schools returning

FAQs

These FAQs will continue to be updated as required, in addition to those on the dedicated pages in this section

Updated FAQs 26 August 2020

  • FAQs added on face coverings
  • Please note FAQs on catering, school transport etc are now contained within those specific pages

Face coverings

What are the new arrangements with face coverings?

From Monday 31 August, face coverings should (unless exemptions apply) be worn:

  • In secondary schools, by adults and all pupils moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where physical distancing is difficult to maintain
  • On dedicated school transport by all children aged five and over, bringing it into line with guidance for public transport 

Face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom as there is greater scope for physical distancing and face coverings can have an impact on learning and teaching.  

However, it remains the case that where adults cannot keep two metre distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more) face coverings should be worn. In addition, staff and students can continue to wear face coverings in any classroom if they wish to. 

Please ensure your child wears a face covering while moving around the school campus, if they attend a secondary school, and at all times on school transport (if aged five and over) if they travel to and from school on a bus, coach or taxi.

What guidance is there for safely removing, storing and disposing of face coverings?

  • Face coverings should not be shared with others
  • Before putting on or removing the face covering, hands should be cleaned by washing with soap and water or hand sanitiser
  • Make sure the face covering is the right size to cover the nose, mouth and chin
  • When temporarily storing a face covering (for example during classes), it should be placed in a washable, sealed bag or container. Avoid placing it on surfaces, due to the possibility of contamination
  • Re-usable face coverings should be washed after each day of use in school at 60 degrees centigrade or in boiling water
  • Disposable face coverings must be disposed of safely and hygienically
  • Children and young people should be encouraged to place their disposable face coverings in the general waste bin.  

Is it possible to wear a homemade face covering?

If any families wish to make their own simple face covering, a video is available to show you how.  

What if my child forgets or does not have a face covering?

Each school will have a contingency supply. 

Are there any exceptions to wearing a face covering?

Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. Further information on exemptions can be found in wider Scottish Government guidance.

Why has the Council decided to have all pupils return in full on 11 August?

The Scottish Government confirmed on 30 July that schools will reopen on 11 August and encouraged local authorities to enable children and young people to return to school full time as quickly and safely as possible.

The full return of pupils was our ‘Plan A’ and therefore we are well prepared for that and confident that we can accommodate pupils and staff safely in full from Tuesday 11 August.

Bringing everyone together as soon as possible also provides the most time for all pupils and staff to adjust to the new arrangements and routines that will be in place and therefore minimises the educational impact on our young people.

We fully expect the first week to be a transitional week for all our young people.

How will pupil transitions be supported?

We understand that the move to a new school is challenging at the best of times and that a range of transitional opportunities for new P1s and S1s have not been possible due to COVID-19 and the closure of schools since March.

Schools will be supporting all pupils to transition to the new arrangements and routines that will be in place, but with a particular focus on new pupils.

Each school will be putting in their own arrangements to make the transition as smooth and enjoyable as possible, including for P1s staggered start times on the first day where appropriate.

What are the arrangements for drop off/pick up of pupils?

All schools have been encouraged to consider arrangements for drop off/pick up of pupils to make this as safe as possible and ensure that adults can social distance.

This may include restricting parental access to playgrounds, for example.

As normal we ask that all children and parents/carers travel to school on foot or by bike wherever this is possible and it is safe to do so.

It is essential that parents/carers who choose to drive their children to school make use of existing ‘Park and Stride’ arrangements where these are in place to minimise the number of vehicles close to schools due to the significant road safety risk this poses to children.

Where schools do not have formal ‘Park and Stride’ arrangements parents/carers should park/drop off pupils away from the immediate vicinity of the school.

Details will be provided to parents by schools this week.

Will parents be allowed into schools?

No, we are required to restrict all non-essential access to schools.

Do parents need to wear face coverings when picking up/dropping off pupils?

No, because this will take place outdoors. It is the responsibility of parents/carers to ensure that they maintain social distancing requirements with other adults when around schools.

What arrangements are there for shared headships/visiting staff?

In accordance with Scottish Government guidance, staff should not be accessing more than one setting in a day wherever possible. This will mean that Headteachers where they are responsible for multiple schools will be based in only one school on a daily basis. This also applies to staff from a range of services and partners and specific guidance is being put in place for them.

Normal arrangements apply for contacting Headteachers by phone or email.

Will practical subjects be able to run as normal?

There are a variety of restrictions which will affect the ability of some practical subjects to be delivered as ‘normal’. Our focus is on ensuring the safe return of pupils on 11 August and the transitional first week to ensure that our schools are COVID-safe spaces.

Because each school’s departments may have to adapt their practice to undertake activities safely, not all practical activity will begin immediately.

What measures are there to help older pupils socially distance?

In accordance with the Scottish Government guidance there is no requirement for any pupils to socially distance but we will be encouraging older secondary school pupils to socially distance wherever possible, especially outwith classes.

Individual schools will be able to share details on school-specific arrangements.

Management of numbers at break and lunch

Where required schools will put in place staggered break and lunch times to avoid particularly large groups of pupils gathering and mixing. These arrangements are for individual schools to make.

Will pupils be allowed to mix in schools?

In accordance with Scottish Government guidance there is no requirement for social distancing between any pupils.

Schools will make efforts to keep groups apart from other groups wherever possible. This includes minimising movement of pupils through timetabling and ‘home rooms’, staggered break and lunch times and the avoidance of assemblies.

Will there be supervision of handwashing?

Pupils of all ages will be encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly and also make use of the available hand sanitiser throughout schools. Where necessary, particularly for our youngest children, supervision of hand washing will take place.

What PPE will teachers be wearing?

From Monday 31 August, face coverings should (unless exemptions apply) be worn:

  • In secondary schools, by adults and all pupils moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where physical distancing is difficult to maintain
  • On dedicated school transport by all children aged five and over, bringing it into line with guidance for public transport 

Face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom as there is greater scope for physical distancing and face coverings can have an impact on learning and teaching.

However, it remains the case that where adults cannot keep two metre distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more) face coverings should be worn. In addition, staff and students can continue to wear face coverings in any classroom if they wish to. 

What arrangements will there be for children who have been shielding or who have family member who has been shielding?

The Scottish Government ‘paused’ shielding on 1 August. Therefore the full return of pupils on 11 August will include those who have been shielding.

Where there is any specific health guidance for individual young people who have been shielding to stay safe we will work to accommodate any requirements in school.

Where schools are aware of existing health conditions they will be in contact with parents during the first week to discuss any concerns or arrangements required.

If your child has developed a health condition recently, or that the school are not aware of, please contact the school during the first week to make them aware.

Schools would be very keen to hear of any parental concerns about a pupil’s health.

What will secondary school timetables look like, especially for S3-S6?

Timetables will as far as possible provide the full range of subjects and subject choices as normal. The delivery of some subjects, particularly practical subjects, may be impacted to some extent by ongoing restrictions. Further national guidance on specific subject areas is still awaited and as soon as we can we will share details of how practical subjects will operate/will be impacted by restrictions.

Extended periods of learning and the use of ‘home rooms’ will be in place to minimise pupil movement wherever possible, with teaching staff moving between classrooms wherever this can be accommodated. 

Equipment

Can pupils bring in pencil cases/school bags etc?

Yes, each pupil should bring in any essential resources they would normally take to school. Resources will also be supplied as normal by schools for use of individual pupils. Pupils should not share any resources with others.

What should pupils do with PE kit and other equipment?

PE kit etc should be brought to school and taken home after each use. Pupils should not leave any equipment or clothing in school other than pupils allocated individual lockers.

Does school clothing need washed every day?

School uniforms/clothing should be washed/cleaned as normal.

Are there any items pupils should not take to school?

We would encourage pupils to only take essential items to school.

Attendance

Will children who have to self isolate or cannot attend due to medical reasons be supported with their learning?

Where young people are not able to attend for health reasons schools will support home learning and ensure continuity.

If I choose not to send my child to school will you provide home learning?

No. However, it is recognised that some parents and carers may be concerned about their child returning to school and in these circumstances please contact the school to support attendance.

Safety

What precautions are being taken to ensure my child will be safe at school?

The Scottish Government has only confirmed that schools can reopen as the public health and scientific advice suggests it is safe to do so, with appropriate measures in place.

The precautions include:

  • significant enhanced cleaning throughout the school day
  • signage to support hand washing and hygiene requirements and encourage pupils to social distance wherever practicable
  • hand sanitising stations

There will be an ongoing reinforcement of the message that we all need to be healthy when in school and that we shouldn’t be in school if unwell. Clear protocols will be in place for those feeling unwell.

Who can I contact if I have any concerns, queries or feedback for the Council?

If you have any concerns, queries or feedback please direct these through your respective Parent Council. We have established regular meetings with Parent Council Chairs to enable these concerns to be passed to us and addressed as required. The first of these took place on Tuesday 4 August. 

Test and Protect

How will Test and Protect arrangements work in schools?

Young people and staff members must not attend if they or any household member are showing symptoms of COVID-19, such as new persistent cough, temperature and/or loss or change in ability to taste or smell.

Should any young person or staff member display symptoms during the school day they will be taken to a room and kept isolated from others. Where it is a pupil, a single member of staff wearing appropriate PPE will stay with them until a parent/carer can collect.

The person should seek a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. This can be done through the government portal. In line with national guidance, until the test results are received the person and members of their household should self-isolate.

Should the test come back positive the school must be informed immediately. An internal process will then be followed to establish a joint incident management team with NHS Borders and instigate the test, trace, isolate process. This will require schools to provide information regarding young people and staff members who were in classes at certain times and then they may be contacted by contract tracers as required.

Appropriate cleaning will be undertaken as required and decisions around class/school closures taken by the joint incident management team.