5th June 2020
A letter from Helen Budge on school arrangements:-
Dear Parents and Carers
Information to all Parents and Carers – Children and Young People returning to Schools and Early Learning and Childcare Settings, 11 August 2020
The Scottish Government have instructed all local authorities to plan for their schools and Early Learning and Childcare settings re-opening for children and young people on Tuesday 11 August with a blended model of delivery. This means an earlier start to the new session for children and young people and school staff in Shetland and further information will follow on this.
To make ready for the 11 August, staff will return to settings in June. While remote, ‘online’ and ‘offline’ learning will continue, your children and young people may not receive the same level of virtual interaction and promptness of reply from staff that they have experienced up until now, owing to them also being in school, preparing for August.
Children’s Services central staff are currently working with Head Teachers and Managers of Early Learning and Childcare settings to organise, optional, physical in school/setting transitions later this month for children and young people transitioning from Early Learning and Childcare to primary one and children moving from primary seven to secondary one after the summer holidays. For children and young people moving into secondary one, transition arrangements, agreed at school/cluster level, may include up to two half days in their primary school, and up to two half days in their new secondary school. There will be further communication with parents and carers by Friday 12 June.
Please be reassured that the safety of all children and young people involved in physical transition activity is paramount. The appropriate building checks, risk assessments, cleaning, signage, enhanced hygiene practices, and physical distancing requirements will be in place before any child or young person enters either a school or Early Learning and Childcare setting in June, and ahead of the wider return of children and young people in August. The local authority will continue to follow public health advice very closely.
Regarding the August return, at this point, the Scottish Government guidance is that the two metre physical distancing requirement must be in place for the majority of children and young people. This has significant implications for our schools including: – The number of children and young people that can be in a classroom at any one time and the need to reduce class sizes in the majority of our settings; – The need to keep children and young people in smaller groups without mixing with other children and young people out-with their group and to minimise their movements during the school day; – The need to stagger break and lunchtimes, as well as having clear protocols for dropping children and young people off at school and picking them up from school; – Increasing the frequency of cleaning during the school day, reducing the use of shared items and utilising outdoor space; – The number of children and young people that can travel to and from school on school transport; – The possible option of expanding the learning estate, utilising additional spaces, including community buildings in localities to support face-to-face teaching. In short, the blended model of education delivery is predicated on a smaller number of children and young people attending schools at any one time across Scotland. In practice, this means that many children and young people, both locally and nationally, may have a blended combination of face–to-face teaching in school and remote learning at home. More specifically, this may mean certain days of the week that children and young people are in school, or in school for a full week then a week of remote learning, at least at the start of the new session. All of our Head Teachers, in discussions with their staff, are currently exploring how the blended model of learning will work for their setting, considering how classroom sizes align with the physical distancing requirements, and referring to local guidance and the appropriate Scottish Government documentation. The Scottish Government have also encouraged flexibility of approach regarding blended learning, taking into account local circumstances like the size of buildings and school rolls, and what is possible, in terms of the amount of time children and young people can be safely in school at any one time. This will mean a bespoke models of delivery for schools in Shetland.
I appreciate you will have many questions about the blended learning model and what it will mean for your children and young people. You may also have understandable concerns about your child(s) safety on their return and the impact of the length of time away from school has had on their development, wellbeing and progress with their learning. I would like to reassure you that health and wellbeing, nurture, and the appropriate learning experiences, will be central to all our schools planning and approaches when they reopen, and that all the required health and safety measures will be in place. For our senior phase pupils, in secondary four to six, we also await further clarity from the Scottish Government and the SQA around what assessment arrangements will look like in 2020-21. Moving forward, all schools will share more information with their parents and carers over the coming weeks on all the points raised in this letter. Children’s Services’ will also add FAQs for parents and carers to the Shetland Digital School Hub. https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/sh/digitalschoolhub/
Meanwhile, our critical childcare provision for key workers and provision for children with additional support needs, established in March at the outset of the pandemic, will continue during the coming months with more information to follow.
Finally, thank you for all that you are doing supporting your children’s remote learning at this very challenging time, it is greatly appreciated.
Coronavirus: Key Workers
Following the recent measures enacted by the UK and Scottish Government in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Shetland Islands Council has clarified the definition and categories of ‘key workers’ in a local context, to help ensure that essential services can function while minimising the risks of travel and contact, and that key workers providing critical services can access the support they need, such as childcare.
The first presumption is that all those who can do so will work from home. Keeping that in mind, the Council has prepared a list of those services and functions (attached) which fall into ‘key worker’ categories, to allow local businesses, industry and the third sector to determine their own prioritisation of their business-critical staff at this time.
Three categories of key worker have been identified at a national level:
· Category 1 – Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff; Health and Care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; energy suppliers (small numbers have been identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning for other category 1 staff
· Category 2 – All other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (e.g. Fire, Police, Prisons, Social Workers, etc.), as well as those supporting our critical national Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused
· Category 3 – All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised).
Locally, some services are deemed only to have ‘key worker’ status where dealing with situations which pose an immediate threat to human wellbeing, animal welfare or the functioning of other key services. This does not presuppose that it is business as usual for other services, and all services, businesses and sectors should take every measure possible to ensure that unnecessary travel and contact is minimised or eliminated, and follow official guidance at all times.
22 March 2020
Critical childcare for key workers
During the current coronavirus pandemic, Shetland Islands Council has clarified the definition of ‘key workers’ for whom childcare provision can be provided, to allow their parents to continue to work.
Key workers are in those in posts which ensure that essential services can be delivered and cover tasks within the local community which support the vulnerable and aid community resilience. To support prioritisation of places, there are three categories of key worker:
Category 1 – Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff; Health and Care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; Energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning for other category 1 staff.
Category 2 – All other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (e.g Fire, Police, Prisons, Social Workers, etc), as well as those supporting our Critical National Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.
Category 3 – All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised)
If one parent is a key worker and the other is not, it is expected that the non-key worker should provide childcare. Children should be at home if it is at all possible.
Shetland Islands Council is working with private providers to ensure critical childcare is available for essential workers available at the following settings:
· Hame Fae Hame
· Peerie Foxes
· Isles Haven Nursery (3-5 year olds)
· Islesburgh Out of School Club (5 years +)
In addition to this, some childcare will also be provided through the Council’s partner childminders. In rural areas, it may be possible to provide bespoke childcare, based on demand.
If you are a worker in any of the above categories and require childcare to allow you to attend your place of employment, please email ELC@shetland.gov.uk to request a Critical Childcare Registration Form.
19 March 2020
All schools in Scotland are now closed and are not set to reopen after the Easter Break. More information will follow when available.
16th March 2020
This is where you will be able to find information on the current school closure. Here is a letter from Children’s Services Department:-
Dear Parent and Carer
When the decision was made to close some of our schools for one week from Monday 16 March for operational and resilience reasons, Children’s Services committed to issuing further information to parents and carers at the start of this week, including information about learning that can be done at home, and electronic communication between children and staff during the closure period.
We recognise that is a very unsettling time for families, and school staff, and we are committed to ensuring that learning can take place at this time at home.
More specifically, the following arrangements are already in place:
- Many of our children and staff are already familiar with Glow and the Office 365 tools within it through their use of it in school. All primary pupils at Urafirth have a Glow username and password. More information on how we intend to use GLOW to support children’s learning should the school closures be extended will be shared later in the week.
- If your child does not have access to an internet enabled device, please inform the school so alternative arrangements can be in place.
- If you live in an area which is poorly served in terms of internet connectivity, then please contact the school.
- Some schools have organised other forms of digital communication between schools and children during the closure period – at Urafirth we are developing Microsoft Teams with more information to follow.
- All pupils have received their learning folders and have sufficient work to see them through until the end of term if needed. We will keep you updated on our online learning plans for P4 – 7 should they be required.
- Finally, please find attached general advice that Children’s Services have received for supporting family life at this time, which may be of use to your family.
Please do discuss any concerns you have with your school in the first instance.
Guidance for parents and carers in the event of school closure due to Coronavirus
Your child will be learning from your response to the current situation. Seeing you staying calm and resilient will be crucial to helping them cope with the circumstances.
It is very important to maintain structure and routine for your child whilst schools are closed. The following 10 tips may help you to maintain your child’s health and well-being.
- Set times for getting up and going to bed for your child.
- Have regular times for meals.
- Build in time for fresh air and exercise as far as this is possible.
- Structure your child’s day so that they have a variety of activities and break times.
- Create a menu of activities that your child can do during the day.
- Make a daily plan of activities and share these with your child the night before so that you and your child know what is happening the next day.
- Review the day’s activities and talk about what they have done. A sense of accomplishment is important for children and young people.
- Make Monday to Friday different from the weekend by structuring the activities along the same timings as a normal school day.
- Decide when and for how long your child will have access to electronic devices and for what purpose.
- Maintain contact with friends and family through technology.
Remember that your child will be learning from your response to handling this situation. Seeing you staying calm and resilient will be crucial to helping them cope with the circumstances.