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Education / SIC outlines Covid mitigations in schools as bairns prepare to return after summer break

SHETLAND Islands Council has written to all parents and carers to set out the Covid measures which will be in place in schools and early learning and childcare settings in the new term.

The mitigations and measures will be place for the first six weeks of term, which begins on 18 August.

All school and early learning and childcare staff and secondary pupils are being strongly encouraged to restart twice-weekly at-home lateral flow testing in the week prior to return with a test being taken either in the morning before leaving for the first day of the new term.

Two metre physical distancing between adults, and between adults and children and young people, will remain in place in all schools and early learning and childcare settings.

Other health and safety measures that were in place in school and early learning and childcare settings prior to the summer holidays will also continue, including:

  • The use of hand sanitisers throughout the school day.
  • Daily hand sanitisation for all children and young people on arrival at their setting.
  • One way systems throughout settings where possible.
  • Enhanced daily cleaning and further cleaning undertaken daily at the end of each pupil day.
  • Careful monitoring to ensure the appropriate level of ventilation and adequate air flow throughout school buildings. CO2 monitors will continue to deployed, monitoring the level of CO2, and temperature in classrooms.

The arrangements for wearing face coverings will also remain for the first six weeks of the new session, more specifically:

  • In secondary settings, face coverings will continue to be required to be worn by all staff and all pupils, unless exemptions apply, in the school building throughout the school day.
  • In primary and early learning and childcare settings, face coverings should be worn by adults where they cannot keep two metres from other adults and /or children and young people.  Face coverings should also be used by adults when not working directly with children, for example, when moving around settings.
  • Any primary aged child wishing to wear a face covering should be permitted to do so but it is not a requirement.
  • Face coverings should be worn by parents and carers and other visitors to the school site (whether entering the building or otherwise), including parents and carers at drop-off and pick-up points.
  • It is the responsibility of secondary aged children and young people to bring a face covering to school, although there will continue to be a collection of face coverings available in school offices.

As there has been a revised approach to contact tracing, whereby staff, children and young people may not necessarily be required to self-isolate for 10 days if they are identified as a contact of a positive case, the practice of grouping children into bubbles, during the school day is no longer required and will be removed early into the new term in all settings.

Staff, pupils and parents are also advised to continue to be aware of any Covid symptoms and immediately self-refer for a PCR test if required.

Chairman of the SIC’s education and families committee George Smith said: “I would like to welcome back all our pupils and staff to their settings. I am delighted that we are able to see the beginning of a return to a more normal school session.

“I am hopeful that after six weeks these mitigations will be able to be reduced further. I hope all our staff and pupils have had an enjoyable summer break and are looking forward to the return to their setting.”