Latest Service Update - Schools

Pupils returned to full-time education in Aberdeen on Monday 17 August.  The risk assessment process and national guidance has helped staff teams put in place a range of measures to support a safe return for children, young people and staff.  

The First Minister announced the intention to open schools full-time in August subject to appropriate mitigations being in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As always we are being guided by the Scottish Government in our approach to re-opening our schools and health surveillance arrangements are in place to monitor how the opening of school buildings impacts on the R number.

A plan has been published to share how organisations are working together to keep everyone safe. The child-friendly document emphasises to pupils the importance of supporting the health and wellbeing of others by self-isolating if displaying Coronavirus symptoms and staying away from school if feeling unwell. Council officers have been working with public health colleagues on an city-wide outbreak control plan, which is to be published soon. 

 

School pick up and drop off

Please see the below map for information on dropping-off and picking up around the city centre schools. 

George Street between John Street and St Andrew Street is temporarily closed to all traffic as a result of subsidence following flooding on 12 August.  Southbound traffic should turn left at John Street, turn right at Loch Street and right again along St Andrew Street to miss the closed section.

 

More information can be found below in our Frequently Asked Questions.

School specific information will be issued directly by schools to parents and carers as soon as it is available. 

Face Coverings

Updated guidance on the use of face coverings in schools has now been issued by the Scottish Government

From Monday 31 August face coverings should (unless exemptions apply) be worn by: 

  • All adults and pupils in secondary schools must wear a face covering when moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas, where physical distancing is difficult to maintain  
  • All children aged 5 and over must wear a face covering on dedicated school transport. This is in line with guidance for public transport.  

There is no change for pupils in primary school who do not use school transport.

Staff and pupils will be supported to wear face coverings over and above this guidance if they choose to do so.

More information can be found below in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Online learning support

An online learning support hub has been set up with different portals for pupils, parents/guardians and teachers. Pupils will be able to access the curriculum.  

Visit the online learning support hub

Pupils with no broadband access at home will be given a laptop along with a wifi connection device. Schools are organising provision for affected pupils, which is being made possible thanks to support from BT. 

Free school meals

On-site meals provision at schools resumed on Monday 17 August replacing the provision of free school meal vouchers. 

Frequently Asked Questions

The new term began on 10 August 2020 and will finish  on 25 June 2021. 

 

In common with all Scottish Local Authorities, Aberdeen City Council’s Education Service  considered the implications of the published guidance to ensure a safe return to school buildings for all pupils.  Each school setting  responded to this with personalised plans  appropriate to individual school buildings.   Appropriate levels of PPE  were distributed to each Education setting and clear guidance has been shared with all staff.
 

The Local Delivery Phasing Plan incorporates the principles and expectations set out in national blended learning guidance.  The development of a Local Authority Plan enabled Head Teachers and staff to develop Individual Schools Recovery Plans underpinned by national guidance in order to realise consistency in approaches wherever possible. 

The LDPP is underpinned by guiding principles mirroring national guidance including: the following of medical advice at all times; the wellbeing of all pupils and staff; risk assessments; public health measures, balancing at home and in-school learning and clear and effective communications with stakeholders. 

The LDPP and associated school Plans will be utilised if the Scottish Government advice of the need to deliver a ‘blended’ education model.
 

The service has engaged with pupils and parents and carers in the development of the LDPP. More extensive engagement with the parent and pupil forum helped shape  School Recovery Plans. Accessible versions of the Local Delivery Phasing Plan are available to support communication with parents, carers and children and young people and the FAQs on the Aberdeen City Website will continue to be updated as planning progresses.
 

The full LDPP can be found here:

A summary version is also available for parents and carers. 

The updated national return to school guidance advises that many of the mitigations outlined in the LDPP should remain in place.  Schools are currently updating their School Plans to clarify the mitigations  in place now that children  have returned to school. 

School buildings will open for groups of children and young people from 12th August 2020. 
 

Aberdeen City Council and NHS Grampian work closely together to prevent and control infections in schools. We follow best practice in ensuring that schools follow national guidance in identifying and isolating people displaying Covid-19 symptoms prior to their being sent home for testing and isolation. 

In-school learning is  only offered to staff and pupils who are not  self-isolating and who present with no symptoms of COVID-19 in keeping with Scottish Government advice. 
 

Scottish Government guidance stipulated that physical distancing is not required between children or primary and nursery age.  Physical distancing is to be promoted in secondary schools where possible. Adults working in schools should maintain a physical distance of 2m from pupils and from each other. 

Secondary schools l use a two-pronged approach to physical distancing  – increasing separation and decreasing interaction. 

One way systems through corridors, staggered arrivals and departures, new protocols for parents dropping off and picking up children, arranging of desks and other furniture to support distancing, appropriate signage and briefing parents and pupils ahead of the return to school  have played a part in maintaining safe distancing. 

Staff are  carefully considering the aspects of curricular areas being taught to promote physical distancing. 
 

Arrangements for safe use of toilet facilities  have been planned at individual school level, in line with guidance issued by the local authority. 

Breaks and lunchtimes may be staggered. The provision of free school meal vouchers ceased on 14th August  with an on-site meals service resuming in schools on 17th August.

Pupils  are discouraged from using public and school transport as much as possible with walking and cycling being promoted where it is safe to do so. A ‘Park and Stride’ system for parents dropping of their children  has been  introduced. Transport guidance clearly stipulated the mitigations to be in place for the new term and we have worked  with Transport providers to ensure all measures are in place.  

All children and young people who travel by school transport (primary and secondary) will be expected to wear a face covering from Monday 31 August.

Cross-border transport for Aberdeenshire pupils attending an Aberdeen City school l operate as before. 

There are very good medical reasons why some children are unable to wear a face covering. We ask that you advise the school if your child is exempt from wearing a face covering, details of those who are exempt are available in the linked national guidance

Please advise your child's school of any exemptions so that we can ensure that we are able to advise transport providers of these exceptions.  
 

Our schools will brief pupils on the use of face coverings. It would be helpful if you could discuss these changes with your child and talk through how to wear and dispose of face coverings.  A helpful short film is linked to assist you 
 

A small supply will be available in school for any pupil who forgets their face covering.

A health and wellbeing framework is being developed to support the needs of staff, learners and families and ensure appropriate support mechanisms are in place for all. As part of this work professional learning opportunities have been identified to support and enhance the skillset of practitioners within this area. 

There will be an additional focus on Health and Wellbeing, including mental wellbeing, in the curriculum and key resources to support this have been drafted into support documents for schools.  This is further supported by the launch of our Educational Psychology Service Online Hub, which has various support materials for parents, carers and staff.  

We are developing a citywide collaborative to help support the health of children and young people. This will support the future development of our Hubs.   

Hubs for those in need of care and protection will continue to play an important part in our continuum. It is expected that some pupils will also require support in adapting to the return to school buildings.  

Children with complex additional support needs will be contacted by schools to help plan an effective transition back into school buildings This planning will include parents and carers with Educational Psychology support where appropriate.  

Test and Protect training will be given to all school staff who will be expected to adhere to that guidance at all times. Continuity plans will be in place in order to mitigate the impact of staff having to suddenly self-isolate. 

There is  an increased focus on Health & Wellbeing, ensuring that all children and young people   are welcomed back into the school building and appropriate time is given to re-establishing relationships and reflecting on the wellbeing needs of individuals.  Increased attention is being given to Literacy and Numeracy to ensure that any loss of learning in these areas is identified and addressed appropriately.  

Practitioners l deliver learning face to face, using creative approaches to enable and continue to support best practice while recognising that increased outdoor learning and digital learning will continue where appropriate.
 

The Scottish Government recognises the negative impact of the pandemic on ELC expansion programmes and have temporarily removed the duty to deliver 1140 hours. This takes into account the challenges around social distancing with very young children and delays to the capital programme resulting from, the pandemic impact on our ability to offer 1140 hours from August 2020. 

It is our aspiration to deliver 600 hours over 20/21 whilst recognising that this may be a challenge in some settings. 

Induction Period

We appreciate children will require additional time to reintegrated into nursery. It is important relationships are developed and the settling in period reflects the needs of the children.

To this end, Aberdeen City Council have extended the induction period for children entering/returning to Early Learning and Childcare to ensure this can take place. Where possible, when a child is settling into the nursery, this should be undertaken in an outdoor area with the parent and away from other children.

School will be in touch with you with dates for you and your children to attend nursery settings in meetings.

Funded Providers

Early Learning and Childcare providers based in Aberdeen who have applied to Aberdeen City Council to become a Funded Provider to deliver Early Learning and Childcare will be able to offer additional hours. Please contact the provider directly to confirm what model of provision they are able to offer.

Blended Placements

In line with Aberdeen City Council’s route map and current Scottish Government guidance, local authority nursery setting will accommodate blended placements with ELC providers.

A blended placement relates to a child attending more than one ELC setting (e.g. a local authority and a private nursery or a local authority nursery and a childminder).

From October 28 2020 Aberdeen City Council will seek to accommodate blended placements within the following parameters:

A blended placement can consist of two registered settings only.

Both settings will need to be in agreement.

Please note that some providers may not wish to accommodate a blended placement and it is optional if they wish to do so.

Parents / carers are advised to check with a provider to confirm whether they are willing to accommodate a blended arrangement.

Preferred patterns of attendance

In the first instance, families are encouraged to use one setting, where possible.

If a blended placement is required – preferred pattern of attendance is on separate days.

A child attending settings on the same day to be permitted, where it is necessary and there are no alternative childcare arrangements available - exceptions to be made for childminders and playgroups due to the smaller size of setting.

The SQA have advised that they intend to run the Higher and Advanced Higher exam diet in session 2020/21 but suspend National 5 exams.  The Higher and Advanced Higher exams will be slightly later than usual.  Arrangements for the assessment of National 5 courses will be clarified by SQA at the beginning of Term 2 and schools will keep parents, carers and young people updated of arrangements.  We will continue to be guided by SQA.

 

Individual pupils were  assessed with consideration given to medical needs, personal and intimate care needs, health and wellbeing needs, the learning environment, daily routines etc. This  meant an updating of risk assessments which already exist for children and young people with more complex needs. Individual plans were completed in collaboration with parents and carers. 

All arrangements reflect current national guidance. 

Schools continue  to use Local Authority guidance to deliver transition support.  Individual schools  contact families if there were any changes to their transition programme.
 

The holiday pattern - including in-service days - for the remainder of the session is unchanged with the exception of finishing a week earlier than planned on 25th June 2021. This is because schools  reopened a week earlier.  
 

Janitors are  largely unaffected, as they are employed 52-weeks per year and request and book annual leave as any other full-year employee would; their holidays not being restricted to school holiday periods. Janitors will continue to have a large part to play in supporting schools with reconfiguration over the coming months. 

We  asked our catering and cleaning team members to show some flexibility in these unprecedented times. Catering team members are employed on 39-week contracts, so were not have been contracted to return to work until Monday 17 August. . 

Cleaning team members who service our schools are employed on 41-week contracts and would have been due to return to work on Monday 29 July, to undertake the annual two-week deep clean of the school buildings. This work was  brought forward, to ensure that full deep cleans were carried out in all schools prior to the return of pupils. Service Managers are  working with our People & Organisation team to ensure that employees are not disadvantaged as a result of showing  flexibility in  helping with these arrangements.
 

 A move back to lockdown would see a return to online home learning and Hub provision for those in need of care and protection unless advised to offer a blended learning provision.

 

In order to prioritise resources to support the safe re-opening of schools from August, aIn order to prioritise resources to support the safe re-opening of schools , and to help minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19, let bookings in all schools and community learning centres in Aberdeen City continue to be suspended. 
This decision will be reviewed again at the end of September, based on the latest available national and local guidance, and a further update will be provided at that time. 
In the meantime no bookings for lets in educational establishments, including schools and community learning centres, will be accepted. This includes bookings for both indoor and outdoor activities within these establishments.
 

In order to support the safe re-opening of schools and to help minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19, playing fields which form part of a main school site remain closed to the public. However, our stand alone school playing fields which are not physically attached to a school, are now accessible for general recreation use by members of the public. The open sites are: Rubislaw Playing Fields, Harlaw Road Playing Fields, Harlaw Playing Fields (Groats Road), Tullos Playing Fields, and the Woodies. This arrangement will be kept under review, and should there be any requirement to make changes to the access to these facilities, in order to remain in line with national and local guidance, updates will be posted on this page.


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