The plan for students to return to school in East Ayrshire has been finalised and amongst other things parents are being asked not to enter school buildings.

The final arrangements were published this morning in an announcement from the Head of Education at East Ayrshire Council, Linda McAulay-Griffiths, in preparation for the reopening of schools on August 12.

Students and parents will have to adhere to a new set of rules and the council have advised:

  • Young people must wash/sanitise their hands on arrival at school and at regular intervals throughout the day, especially after lunch.
  • Young people should bring clean tissues to school.
  • School clothes should be washed as per normal routine.
  • Pupils must limit personal items brought to school to those that are essential.
  • Parents must not enter school buildings unless in an emergency. 

There is no requirement for physical distancing in primary or secondary schools, but the council have said that this will be encouraged in all schools, particularly those with older pupils.

They also said that staff will observe 2m physical distancing from pupils wherever possible, and in some instances staff may be required to wear PPE.

Lunch could be consumed in classrooms to prevent the large gatherings of pupils in dining halls, with hot and cold, pre-packed options available to students.

There will be adaptations to PE and other practical lessons, including music provision in an effort to keep everyone safe and assemblies and other large gatherings such as school shows and parents’ evenings will not take place during the first term.

School transport will run as normal. Face coverings will not be required for school transport, but children can wear a covering if they prefer to do so, and pupils will be expected to use hand sanitiser as they board the bus.

Parents are discouraged from dropping off children directly at school gates to prevent entry areas becoming overcrowded.

Linda McAulay-Griffiths said: “I think I speak for all my staff when I say how much we have missed having our young people in our schools and how much we are looking forward to seeing them again.

“We are very aware that this will be an anxious time for families and young people, but we’d like to reassure everyone that throughout the summer, we have been working alongside our parent councils, headteachers,  health and safety and  facilities & property management colleagues to ensure the safest possible return to school for all of our young people next week.

“We have undertaken risk assessments in every establishment; our cleaning regimes have been enhanced and aligned with national guidance; access will be controlled to restrict numbers in limited spaces including toilet areas and other high-traffic areas.

“Clearly, we are returning to a very different learning and teaching environment and the soft start will benefit our young people, particularly those who require enhanced transition and those who have not been able to visit their new schools.

“We would encourage parents and carers to work alongside us to help reinforce these arrangements to help protect our young people and their families.”

Last week the council confirmed its intention to open schools and early childhood centres on a ‘soft start’ basis for the first few days, from Wednesday, August 12, with a commitment to resume full time education for all children and young people from Monday, August 17.

Early Childhood Centres will aim to begin with 600 hours of early learning and childcare. The council is aiming to reintroduce 1140 hours at those sites that were doing so prior to lockdown on a phased basis as and when the Scottish Government provides "appropriate guidance."

Linda added: “As we adjust to living with the threat of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, we’d like to reassure parents and carers that we are taking all steps possible to manage this in our education settings. A national COVID-19 surveillance system is being initiated for staff and senior pupils, involving testing on a voluntary basis, and we have been working with our local public health teams to plan for any scenarios that may arise in our schools or Early Childhood Centres. We ask that parents and carers support us by not sending children to school or ECC if they, or any of member of the household has symptoms of COVID-19. If a child does develop symptoms whilst in our care, parents will be asked to collect their child immediately and follow subsequent medical advice.  

“All of our schools have contingency plans ready, should there be any change to this plan for return, either through any change to physical distancing or indeed local or national lockdown being required.  We would hope that these won’t be necessary, but we hope that parents and carers will be reassured to know that these plans are in place.”