Briefing – Plans to reopen Edinburgh’s schools in August.

Below is a briefing from the City of Edinburgh Council’s “Executive Director for Communities and Families” on his plans to reopen our capital’s schools in August. Firstly you will see that there is still a great deal uncertainty where how much time kids will spend in class is concerned – we only know they will have “full days” and that “33% of a school’s roll will be engaged in in-school learning”.

With the Council facing a huge black hole in funding (largely due to Covid-19), the briefing also touches on financial pressures. As I said at a meeting of Bonaly Primary School Parent Council yesterday evening, as we come out of the crisis the Council and Scottish Government must find a way of protecting education if we are do avoid lasting damage to a whole generation’s life chances. The same point is made by Jack McConnell here.

The following briefing provides the latest position on our plans to reopen schools in August. I will be writing to all parents today on the same basis.
First of all, I want to assure you that all arrangements being put in place are designed to ensure the safest return to schools for our pupils and staff.
Following the Scottish Government’s announcement that schools should open a week earlier next term, we’ve made some minor adjustments to our session dates for 2020/2021. As such, our schools will reopen to pupils from Wednesday 12 August. (The two preceding days will be used as in-service days for staff.)

As schools will start the session one week earlier than originally published, the summer holidays in 2021 will consequently begin one week earlier, with the session finishing on Friday 25 June 2021.

The Scottish Government has advised that this month should be used as preparation for reopening schools in August and part of this will involve some children being invited into school for special transition experiences. Those children who require this support will be contacted by their school and appointments will be made with families to attend during June.

In accordance with Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland guidance, social distancing, hygiene regimes and risk assessments will be essential to keep our children and staff safe. This means that not all children will be able to return to school at the same time.

All arrangements must take account of social distancing, staff availability and circulation routes as well as hygiene and infection control arrangements. Rotas will be arranged to ensure that all children and young people receive a blended model of in-home and in-school learning. Headteachers will be in contact parents/ carers prior to 24 June to inform them which days their child will be in school.

Teaching will take place through Mondays to Thursdays with all children attending for whole days and Fridays used by staff to support home learning. Limited key worker childcare support will continue throughout the week, including Fridays during normal school hours. All children will attend for whole days.

To enable social distancing, from the start of the session it is anticipated that 33% of a school’s roll will be engaged in in-school learning and when and, where conditions allow, arrangements will be made to maximise the proportion of in-school learning.

In Early Learning (Nursery) and Primary Schools, children will be grouped together to enable family members to attend school on the same full day. In Secondary Schools, pupils will be grouped together either by year group or family group depending on the individual arrangements made by each secondary school and each child in the rota will attend for a full day.

Pupils at special schools will be in for 50% of the week with the majority offering two full days in school and the rest as home learning.

There will be a city-wide approach to catering and building opening, with the details of the arrangements at each school reflecting local circumstances and Headteachers will be in contact with parents with details before the end of the session.

These new arrangements will result in budget pressures and consideration is being given as to how these can be offset. This will be covered formally at Committee on 26 June.

I’d like to end by reassuring you that every effort is being made to minimise the disruption to our pupils’ learning. I believe the new blended model of learning represents an improvement on the current home learning arrangements and, though far from ideal, we will review, refine and improve the arrangements as conditions allow.

Executive Director for Communities and Families

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