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Education: frequently asked questions (COVID-19)

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Home   Coronavirus (COVID-19)   Education and learning   Education: frequently asked questions (COVID-19)

Education: frequently asked questions (COVID-19)

This information is currently being revised, and will be updated throughout this week (3 August) and beyond.

The following information provides answers to parents/carers on some of our Frequently Asked Questions and describes how education will be delivered during the recovery phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Please note: Individual schools will be in touch soon with arrangements relating to your own child’s school.

Select a subject below to skip to the relevant section:

  1. Curriculum, learning and teaching
  2. Operational arrangements for the school day
  3. The learning environment
  4. Childcare hubs
  5. Cleaning
  6. Catering
  7. Pupils with additional support needs (ASN)
  8. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  9. Transport

1. Curriculum, learning and teaching

What will the curriculum look like for my child?

During this recovery phase, education will be delivered using a blended learning model.

Schools will ensure that expectations of parents/carers for this blended model are clear and minimise levels of anxiety for families.

Individual schools will plan the curriculum, prioritising support towards the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people, their families and staff.

The curriculum will focus on learning across literacy, numeracy and Health and wellbeing.

In line with Scottish Government guidance, we will operate a blended approach only for as long as is required. We will maximise face to face teaching as soon as is possible.

2. Operational arrangements for the school day

How will pupils be grouped in school?

Almost all schools will be splitting their children and young people into two distinct groups.

  • A – will attend Monday/Tuesday
  • B – will attend Thursday/Friday

As far as possible, schools will aim to do this on sibling groupings, however this may not always be possible. 

Wednesday will be used to provide an increased focus on supporting learning at home.

Can parents select their preferred days for pupils returning?

It would not be possible to deliver a service based on parental preference of days at this time. However, schools know their families well and so should try to support them wherever possible and as far as is reasonable.

Should my child wear uniform?

This will be a school decision, taken in collaboration with the wider parent forum and will be communicated as soon as possible.

We know that  feedback from parents is generally overwhelmingly in favour of wearing uniform. However where children and young people have to take part in PE, it may be easier to come dressed as such, to prevent changing facilities having to be used.

Individual schools will inform their own parents/carers of the arrangements for their establishment.

Will the length of day be changed to accommodate staggered start/finish times?

Access to face to face teaching will be maximised.

If we need to adjust start/finish times, we will try to do this without affecting the length of teaching time.

Individual schools will make decisions about arrangements for staggered drop offs and pick ups, being mindful of health and safety risk assessments. 
These arrangements will be clearly communicated to parents and carers.

When will Primary 1 children start school?

P1 children will start back with all other children on Tuesday 11 August 2020.

Group A will attend on Tuesday 11 August, and Group B will start on Thursday 13 August. All children will attend for full days from the start of term.

3. The learning environment

How will pupils be physically distanced in the classroom?

Keeping children and staff safe is our highest priority.

The number of pupils attending school on any given day will reflect the classroom space and class size. 

Pupils will be seated 2 metres apart. Lessons will be planned to ensure pupils remain distanced.

For very young children, for whom physical distancing is unachievable, it may be that they are seated in smaller groups of up to 8, often called bubbles. These groups will be kept consistent and will do everything together. Different bubbles will be kept physically distant from each other.

Will my child be able to take a school bag with them to school?

This decision lies with individual schools and the Head Teacher should be in touch with you about these arrangements.

In some schools, dependent on capacity, the decision may have been made that children will not require a school bag. In these cases, children will be provided with everything they need from the school.

4. Childcare hubs

Which children will access the hubs? Will the children who were accessing the hub continue once the schools return?

The service will continue to be available to:

  • those eligible as keyworkers
  • vulnerable children who have been identified as potentially benefitting from accessing the summer provision

Children aged 3 and 4 who previously attended the Childcare Hubs will now be included in the Early Years provision across North Ayrshire.

Over the summer holidays, the hubs will offer an activity programme which will be operated by our colleagues in Connected Communities from 29 June 2020 till the return of schools in August. The hub locations have changed to allow schools to get ready for their return. The hubs are now in community venues with the exception of Largs. A list of the hub locations is on the NAC website. They will be open between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday. The children attending will take part in a range of activities. 

Government advice will determine who are key workers as we move forward. This will determine who will attend in August onwards.

When are parents finding out about the details of where and how the hubs will be running?

You can consult the latest updates from Education, with further guidance to follow.

Or, view information from the Scottish Families Information Service.

5. Cleaning

Will schools be cleaned every day?

Yes. Normal cleaning regimes will be in place and enhanced by thorough cleans on designated days. There will be a focus on touch points such as door handles, bannisters and toilets.

Will cleaning products be available in every classroom?

There will be anti-bacterial wipes available in all classrooms. 

What are the expectations of our children regarding cleaning?

Everyone in the school community has a social responsibility to contribute to good hand hygiene through regular hand washing. This will be regularly encouraged by all staff and procedures in place to support this. 

Can my child bring their own hand sanitiser or hand soap to use?

Yes.

In secondary school, when pupils move from class to class, what is the cleaning requirements for desks and chairs?

In secondary schools, teaching staff will have antibacterial wipes available to support with this and a wipe down of work surfaces between pupil groups is advisable.

Timetables are currently being redesigned to minimise movement around buildings, therefore reducing the areas in which pupils are accommodated, thus minimising the cleaning requirements in these areas. 

Will additional hand washing/sanitising be available?

Hand sanitising stations will be set up in schools in appropriate places, but this will not replace the need for hand washing which will require to be a key focus. 

6. Catering

How will lunchtime work for our children?

Pupils and staff will remain two metres apart.

Primary schools will operate a mixture of in class service and dining room service. For both services, an electronic pre order sheet will be completed and emailed to the kitchen. Lunches will be delivered to the classrooms and crockery and cutlery collected at an agreed time. Children accessing the dining space will required to be seated two metres apart where they will be served lunch at their table.

Secondary Schools will offer a limited choice of hot and cold lunches served from various service points. 

Pre order facilities will be made available and these orders collected from another service area to minimise queueing. Vending machines will also be operational and will be on an enhanced cleaning regime. Sanitiser will also be located next the vending machines.

Will ParentPay be fully operational to ensure no cash is exchanged?

Yes. There will be no cash exchanges.

7. Pupils with additional support needs (ASN)

How will we best support our pupils with ASN, distressed pupils and more vulnerable pupils in mainstream?

Guidance has been sent to school on recommendations for supporting ASN, including guidance on supporting distressed pupils.

Are soft furnishings allowed for ASN pupils, for example, if they have their own personal space within a classroom?

The number of soft furnishings will be kept to a minimum as per SG guidance.

How will we support pupils with ASN to understand expectations around social distancing, hygiene, etc?

Teachers will ensure specific modelling for some pupils with ASN to help them to follow the social distancing and hygiene expectations. The use of visuals and social stories will also be helpful.

Do children with ASN still need to adhere to the physical distancing model?

All children will be encouraged to physically distance where they can, but it may also be necessary to consider the model of smaller consistent cohorts for children and young people with ASN, as is outlined in guidance for early years and younger children.

8. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Will hand sanitiser be available in every classroom?

Where classes have sinks, then staff and pupils should use these before using hand sanitiser.

Antibacterial wipes/antibacterial spays and towels will be made available in classes for wiping down surfaces.

What advice are we giving about the use of masks and gloves?

Physical distancing is the main control for reducing the spread of infection. This should remove the requirement for face coverings in schools.

Our classrooms are being set up in order to maintain physical distancing.

There may be some circumstances where staff may decide to wear a mask where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as first aid or intimate care of pupils. 

Will children be required to wear gloves and mask? 

No. Current guidelines do not require children to wear any type of PPE.

Will PPE be provided for dealing with a pupil who becomes unwell? (First Aid)

Yes. First aiders should already be wearing disposable aprons and gloves when dealing with a pupil or staff member.

9. Transport

Will our children with ASN continue to have individual taxis where required?

The number of pupils transported in a vehicle will depend on the vehicles size and capacity. Due to 2m physical distancing it is anticipated that taxi capacity will be significantly reduced. 

Further information will be shared with individual parents.

Can bus times be altered to fit in with the new school day?

We are currently working with private bus companies contracted by North Ayrshire to accommodate any changes to the school day where possible.

What is the capacity of each bus?

This will depend on the vehicle size and the number of pupils that can be accommodated with a 2m physical distancing radius. Public transport is currently working on 25% capacity & this is also being adopted locally.

When will parents get the most updated information about transport arrangements?

School transport arrangements are finalised during the summer holidays and all options are being explored to enhance transport capacity.

The number of runs will depend on the capacity of transport operators and pupil uptake. Families and schools will be notified of the arrangements during the summer holidays.

How do we ensure physical distancing on school buses? How do we ensure social distancing as pupils enter and dismount buses?

Each pupil should be allocated a two metre radius. Transport Hub is working with operators to ensure signage and markings are in place to enable pupils to comply with physical distancing.

Appropriate signage and markings will be in place on school grounds.

Will all buses arrive at the start of the school day?

Where possible buses will arrive at the start of the school day. This will depend on the number of runs, which will be determined by transport capacity and pupil uptake. School start times may be adjusted to align with transport arrangements.

Will buses be cleaned in between each journey?

Yes. Cleaning will be required between journeys.