New Covid-related guidance has been issued for schools, but concerns remain things may change if harder restrictions are imposed by government.
The council’s director of children’s services Helen Budge has highlighted measures outlined by Education Scotland, including more freedom in physical education and an end to 72 hour quarantine of school books.
But her comments come after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was considering the introduction of stricter measures in order to benefit from more extensive support.
The strategic framework now in operation has put Shetland in level one.
However, tougher measures could mean level four restrictions are put in place – something which would lead to senior pupils and adults having to wear face coverings, even in classrooms.
As things stand, the guidance allows for PE to be carried out indoors again.
“Generally, PE has been able to take place outside for the whole of last term,” said Mrs Budge. “But the weather is not so good now, so I welcome the fact that we can now have PE inside.”
A big issue has been the handling of jotters, and Mrs Budge welcomed that textbooks no longer have to go through three days without being handled.
Another focus has been on how classrooms are kept ventilated – not least because the changing weather makes it increasingly impractical to open windows.
“We’re looking very closely at how we keep the air flowing through the classroom, but also making sure that we keep bairns warm.”
Mrs Budge said there had previously been an expectation that some windows would be kept open.
“Now, it’s about being pragmatic.”
As already reported, parents and other visitors to schools are being asked to wear face coverings at pick up and drop off times.
In music, a ban on singing remains, except in early years.
So far, only one coronavirus case has been reported in an isles school – when a Whiteness primary pupil tested positive in September.
Mrs Budge said she was “very impressed” by the response to that case, and insisted schools were fully prepared should they be at the centre of any more cases, with remote learning ready for implementation.
Mrs Budge said she had “never” seen the speed at which things are changing.
“It’s fascinating because you get information and guidance that comes out and it’s the speed of expected implementation.
“The staff are brilliant. Every time we have met the target – we have implemented the guidance, we have ensured our staff and bairns remain safe. But I have never had to work at this speed or at this volume of change.”