Schools to reopen later this month for some Shetland pupils

Some pupils could be returning to schools in Shetland later this month, according to a letter sent to parents and carers.

Helen Budge, director of children’s services at the SIC, said staff were currently working with schools to organise “optional” sessions in the coming weeks for pupils at transition stages of their education.

The face to face sessions would be for children moving from early learning settings into primary one classes as well as pupils due to start secondary school after the summer holidays.

The letter stresses that the June return will be “optional”.

“Please be reassured that the safety of all children and young people involved in physical transition activity is paramount,” the letter adds.

Other pupils would not be expected to return until 11th August, which is the date set by the Scottish government, and earlier than usual for Shetland.

More information will be provided in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, staff will be returning to schools and early learning centres this month to prepare for reopening.

Preparations include building checks, risk assessments, cleaning, signage, enhanced hygiene practices and ensuring physical distancing requirements are in place.

The amount of “virtual interaction” with pupils may be less than it has been as teachers will be at school preparing.

The letter adds that complying with social distancing requirements will have “significant implications”  for Shetland’s schools when they reopen.

Classroom sizes will be reduced, children will not be able to mix outside their groups and break-times are likely to be staggered.

There are also likely to changes to protocol for dropping and collecting children at school.

The SIC is looking at the possibility of using additional spaces including community buildings as classrooms.

Ms Budge said pupils may have a “blended model” of learning – a combination of face to face teaching in school and remote learning at home.

“More specifically, this may mean certain days of the week that children and young people are in school, or in school for a full week then a week of remote learning, at least at the start of the new session,” she added.

“All of our head teachers, in discussions with their staff, are currently exploring how the blended model of learning will work for their setting, considering how classroom sizes align with the physical distancing requirements, and referring to local guidance and the appropriate Scottish government documentation.”

The SIC said it was awaiting further information from government and would continue communicating with parents.


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