After a lockdown-enforced break of almost five months, Scottish primary and secondary schools have reopened.
Schools in Shetland and the Borders went back today (11 August), with most others set to return on Wednesday.
The Scottish government has set a deadline of 18 August for all schools to fully reopen.
“Schools have worked really hard to support pupils through lockdown but we know the impact on education, on wellbeing, on happiness has been negative for young people, so to get them back into full-time education has to be a priority,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday.
While asking all pupils to remain physically distant from one another was deemed impractical, older children are being encouraged to do so where possible and teachers are required to stay two metres away from staff and pupils.
The wearing of masks is voluntary in both school buses and buildings, although hand sanitising will be required before boarding the former. One-way systems will also be in place.
Although only confirmed on 30 July, today has been earmarked as the date of return for months. Back in June, the principal of Lomond School, Johanna Urquhart, talked about about readying staff, pupils and facilities for reopening.
Measures being taken included an adapted timetable based on core learning, wearing ‘PE-type’ clothing and washing it daily, holding classes outside wherever possible, and trying as far as possible to assign groups of pupils a base classroom and have teachers move between them.
To get young people back into full-time education has to be a priority – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
“We will continue to review plans in line with the most up-to-date government advice and prepare for our children to return in the safest manner possible,” said Urquhart.
“We are very much looking forward to reopening and getting back to some form of normality.”
Shona Haslam, leader of the Scottish Borders Council, told the BBC that the council had followed government guidance to the letter in preparing the region’s schools for reopening.
“Additional cleaning, additional ventilation, children not walking around the school quite so much, one-way systems in place, school transport being an extension of the school estate – we’ve done all of those measures that are in the Scottish government guidance and we are as confident as we can be,” she said.