Plans for reopening Borders schools in August to be revealed within next two weeks

Education chiefs in the Borders have promised to give details of their plans for reopening the region’s schools in August within the next two weeks.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 29th June 2020, 10:37 am
Jedburgh Grammar Campus headteacher Susan Oliver and pupils taking delivery of the keys to the £32m building in March, unaware at the time that they wouldn't get to use them for a further five months.
Jedburgh Grammar Campus headteacher Susan Oliver and pupils taking delivery of the keys to the £32m building in March, unaware at the time that they wouldn't get to use them for a further five months.

They’re hoping that will be a full-time reopening on Tuesday, August 11, as heralded by Scottish Government deputy first minister John Swinney following a U-turn last week.

If no confirmation is provided by the government by then, though, bosses at Scottish Borders Council warn that they’ll have to proceed on the basis of Mr Swinney’s previous plan for a mix of a part-time return and further home learning to give pupils and parents enough time to prepare.

It’s now been 101 days since schools in the Borders, along with others across the country, closed on Friday, March 20, as the UK’s coronavirus lockdown began, but, all being well, it’s now only 43 days until they open again.

Eight of the region’s nine secondaries will be reopening, but one, the £32m Jedburgh Grammar Campus, will be welcoming pupils for the first time as its planned official opening on Tuesday, April 21, had to be put on hold due to the lockdown.

Council chief executive Tracey Logan said: “We all hope that Covid-19 will be sufficiently suppressed to allow the Scottish Government to confirm that it is safe for every young person across the country to attend school full-time in August.

“This is our plan A, and we are developing the necessary arrangements for it as there will undoubtedly still be measures required in all our education settings to minimise the risk of Covid-19 to our young people and staff.

“However, we must ensure that we have the necessary contingency plans – plan B – ready to implement if a full return is not possible.

“We have been working on these extremely complex plans for a number of weeks now and are making very good progress.

“Should there be no decision before July 13 by the Scottish Government on arrangements for schools reopening on August 11, we will provide details of our contingency plan to parents.

“This will provide four weeks’ notice to enable parents to make any necessary arrangements around childcare etc as there would be a degree of home learning required in these plans.

“In all our planning, our focus is on being able to deliver learning in school safely for pupils and staff and, as part of plan B, a blended learning offer that supports the learning needs of every pupil and helps them to achieve their learning targets.”

Council leader Shona Haslam has welcomed Mr Swinney’s rethink, saying: “We will now move forward to ensure that our young people can return to school full-time from August 11.

“I know that many worried parents, including myself, are breathing a huge sigh of relief that finally the Scottish Government has come to a sensible decision about this.”

Further information is available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/schoolreopening