First look inside school in Scotland as they begin to reopen after five months of lockdown

11 August 2020, 11:45

A classroom in Burnfoot Community School in Hawick in the Scottish Borders
A classroom in Burnfoot Community School in Hawick in the Scottish Borders. Picture: LBC News

By Fraser Knight

Schools in Scotland are beginning a phased reopening after five months of lockdown, with two council areas welcoming children back into the classroom today.

Nicola Sturgeon gave the green light for the school gates to be opened on 11 August, saying all pupils should be back in classes full-time by 18 August.

Schools in the Scottish Borders and Shetland are the first to welcome pupils back, with changes made to the way they work.

In Hawick, Burnfoot Community School shared details of its reopening plans with parents, announcing a staggered start time – including a later start time for new Primary Ones – and a ban on parents entering the playground.

They also outlined new rules on children bringing personal belongings to school.

Pupils have been given strict rules on what they can and cannot bring to school
Pupils have been given strict rules on what they can and cannot bring to school. Picture: LBC News

In a letter they said: “When bringing your child to school, please drop them off at the school gates. There will be no parents allowed in the playground except the new Primary 1 parents, can this be limited to one parent only?

“Children are not allowed to being toys or personal belongings to school. They can bring their coat, bag, pencil case, packed lunch and water bottle. Pencil cases are only for individual use.”

The school also outlined changes to breakfast and lunch arrangements with breakfast club back open with hand sanitiser and no parents allowed to join them.

For lunch, the school says pupils will only have a ‘Grab and Go’ or packed lunch option, which pupils will eat in their classrooms before going into the playground.

Children are not allowed to leave the school to have lunch at home or buy food at a nearby shop.

Most local authorities in Scotland will see pupils return to school on Wednesday, with some schools offering induction dates during the first week for children transitioning between schools and year groups.

Children don’t have to social distance at school under guidance from the Scottish Government, but teachers are being told to keep two metres from children where they can.

Newly qualified teacher Gillian Haggerty told LBC News: “Everyone is in the same boat – there are teachers who have been in the job for 10 or 20 years who have said to me I’m as nervous as you are.

“There will be children who are anxious and children who take to it very easily. It’s just about supporting those kids and knowing when children need some time out and some extra support.”

Face coverings are not mandatory in schools in Scotland but the Scottish Government guidance says where adults can’t maintain a two metre distance in schools, they should cover their face.

It also says: “Should the prevalence of the virus in the population start rising, nationally or in parts of Scotland, schools may wish to encourage the wearing of face coverings, especially among adults and older young people in secondary schools.”