Education chiefs in Borders reveal plan B if coronavirus crisis stops schools opening full-time

Education chiefs in the Borders have issued a warning to parents, carers and pupils of contingency plans they might have to resort to if the resurgent coronavirus crisis worsens and they are no longer to keep all of the region’s schools open full-time.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 6:19 pm
Trinity Primary in Hawick would be one of two schools there and five across the Borders only offering two days' teaching a week to pupils under a contingency plan announced by education chiefs today.

Those plans have been drawn up in line with Scottish Government guidance following the return of pupils to classrooms last month after five months away.

No criteria for putting them into action have been set yet, and Scottish Borders Council bosses remain hopeful that they won’t be needed.

Council chief executive Tracey Logan said: “Of course, we all hope these plans will not be required, but we must ensure that parents and pupils are aware of these plan-B arrangements just in case.

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“It is crucial to emphasise that the exact circumstances which would necessitate the implementation of these arrangements in a single school, a school cluster or across the whole Scottish Borders are not known.

“It has been an extremely challenging task to produce these plans, with our focus throughout being on the continued delivery of safe learning in school for pupils and staff and a home-learning offer that provides a continuation of pupils’ current curriculum.

“This blended learning model would support the learning needs of every pupil and continue to help them to achieve their learning targets.

“These plans maximise our capacity, both in respect of school buildings and current staff resources, but with a strict social distancing requirement of any kind, it would not be possible to have every pupil in every day of the week.

“The opportunities our Inspire Learning programme provides will be vital in supporting and delivering high quality in-school and home-learning in any blended arrangement, and we are delighted to be able to further accelerate this programme for P4 pupils this autumn.”

Further details can be found at www.scotborders.gov.uk/schoolreopening

The plan is that all schools would be open to pupils Monday to Thursday.

All secondary school pupils would go in for lessons two days a week and study at home for the other three.

The region’s 59 primary schools, however, would follow a different arrangement, with 27 having all their pupils in four days a week, five only having pupils attending two days a week and a further 27 offering a mix of two-day and four-day weeks depending on year group.

The five schools only able to offer two days’ teaching a week would be Drumlanrig St Cuthbert’s Primary and Trinity Primary in Hawick, Priorsford Primary in Peebles, St Peter’s Primary in Galashiels and Clovenfords Primary, but it is stressed that that would only be in a worst-case scenario.

Enhanced provision classes would continue as normal.

Should they be needed, critical childcare hubs would operate five days a week for vulnerable youngsters and children of key workers without access to alternative provision.

Early-years classes would not be able to provide the full 1,140 hours’ entitlement set as a Scottish Government target and would instead settle for the existing 600 hours’ statutory requirement.

Private providers are equally restricted, but where any additional capacity is available they will be able to provide additional paid-for hours to parents