Highland Council: ‘Too early to say what return to school will look like’

Pupils are due to return to schools, such as Lochaber High pictured here, on August 11.

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The Highland Council says it is assessing the implications of the First Minister’s announcements made earlier today (Thursday) about the first stage relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown, concerning teachers and other education staff returning to the workplace during June to prepare for pupils returning to school in August.

Highland Council’s Education Committee Chair, Councillor John Finlayson said the return to workplace and  schools for education staff will have to be undertaken carefully and gradually.

‘I understand the desire for parents and pupils to know what plans and preparations will be put in place to enable the start of term on August 11 – and that is exactly what our education staff will be working on in the coming weeks,’ he said.

‘While I understand parental and pupil anxieties, especially for those starting at school – at this stage and ahead of formal engagement with local head teachers, parent forums and communities it is too early for the council to provide any finalised plans or proposals on what the return to school will look like for Highland families.

‘It is important that the local circumstances of each school will need to be considered along with consultations with key stakeholders. As soon as that information is available schools and the council will promote this widely.’

Paul Senior, Executive Chief Officer Education and Learning added: ‘There is a huge amount of preparation underway to return schools and our education settings in line with government guidelines.

‘Before teaching and education staff can return to school, there are a number of measures we will be deploying to ensure that the views of Highland’s head teachers, parents, carers and communities inform our plans.

‘These will include rigorous risk assessments that will need to be carried out, to ensure that safe distance working practices and other risk prevention measures can be adhered, to that will enable staff to return to the workplace safely in environments that are as safe as possible to minimise the potential for risk.

‘Then, as soon as jointly agreed, risk assessed back-to-school plans are in place, the council along with our schools and settings will provide information to parents, carers and pupils on what the new normal will be like.’