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Education / Council focusing on distance learning as school shutdown continues

The Anderson High School. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

DISCUSSIONS are continuing among local council and education officials about what the next school term could look like, with online learning a key focus.

Schools in Shetland are currently closed as part of a national shutdown in response to the coronavirus crisis and it is unclear when they will reopen.

Scottish Government ministers have previously warned that schools may not reopen until after the summer holidays.

While it is currently what would have been the Easter holidays, the next term would have started on Tuesday (14 April) before running through to early July.

Speaking earlier this week, Shetland Islands Council chief executive Maggie Sandison said that the local authority has to follow guidance from a national level as to when schools reopen.

At the moment staff are planning how to support next term through online learning.

Some schools like the Anderson High School have already given pupils home learning packs to give guidance on activities children can do while they are off, while online platforms are also being used to give children work to do.

“At the national level there’s a conversation happening about when the government might change the recommendations around not going out – the stay at home message,” Sandison said.

“So we certainly don’t expect until the government announce that social distancing can be relaxed, that schools will be opening again.

“At the moment what we’re doing is we’re planning how we can support next term through online learning, making sure that there’s available materials for teachers, parents and the pupils to access.”

Sandison said the council is still engaging at a national level as to “what that might need to look like and how long that might need to go on for”.

“But really nothing will change until the government make any changes to their social distancing arrangements, so we are preparing for distant learning,” she said.