School Reopening - 15 March 2021 - Update

School Reopening - 15 March 2021
On the 9 March the First Minister confirmed the proposal for the return of secondary school pupils from the 15 March.

  • All secondary pupils will return on a part-time basis from 15 March - it is the intention that all secondary school pupils will return to spend some time in school from 15 March until the Easter break.
  • It is expected that all secondary school pupils will be back in school on a full time basis after the Easter holidays.

The Government published its guidance for the reopening of schools on 8 March. Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance on arrangements for the phased reopening of schools in March 2021

In addition, Education Scotland produced its guidance for schools Guidance for in-school and remote learning S1 – S6,’ intended to give further assistance to schools:

The SSTA Position

The Government’s plan has created operational problems for schools by trying to accommodate all pupils at some point during the weeks preceding the Easter break. The arrangements for pupil return and managing parental expectations has been left to the schools. This will only add to the pressure on teachers trying to meet pupil needs and ensure good parental communication. The SSTA advises:

 Safety First

  • SSTA’s first priority is SAFETY FIRST.
  • SSTA School Representatives have been advised to work with members of the school management to devise a work plan this is manageable to ensure that safety of all staff and pupils is not compromised.
  • All Risk Assessments including individual risk assessments must be reviewed to ensure that staff are not put at risk (please note all previous risk assessments do not take into account the new variants).
  • Vulnerable and shielding staff should be encouraged to work from home and support remote learning.
  • Secondary schools should look to minimise movement of young people and staff when in school.
  • Staff numbers working in school buildings should be kept to the minimum required; all others should continue to work from home in line with Government advice.

Safety Measures

  • Face coverings to be worn at all times by staff and young people in secondary school. SSTA advocates the provision of FFP2 masks for staff and pupils.
  • A greater emphasis should be placed on good ventilation. SSTA advocates the use of CO2 monitors and air purification systems where necessary.
  • Strict 2 metre distancing to be observed in the school building in secondary schools.

School Priorities

  • Vulnerable young people and the children of keyworkers to continue to be supported in school.
  • Senior phase students (S4-S6) who are taking national qualifications will have priority for face-to-face lessons in school.
  • All secondary pupils will return on a part-time basis from 15 March - it is the intention that all secondary school pupils will return to spend some time in school from 15 March until the Easter break.

Parental Expectations

  • Parental expectations need to be managed. The proposed arrangements are not a return to ‘normal’ schooling.
  • Parental support is essential to ensure all safety measures are observed by all pupils.
  • Councils will decide how to balance safely in-school learning for secondary school learners based on local circumstances and needs.
  • Remote learning will be much reduced as a consequence of the proposed school reopening measures.

Teacher Workload

  • Members are advised to focus on the pupils they will be asked to teach/supervise in the period before the Easter break.
  • ‘Face to Face’ teaching is the priority with ‘Remote Learning’ only being continued if time is available.
  • Members should not be expected to continue remote learning if required to be in school teaching or supervising pupils.
  • Online livestreaming of classroom lessons must not take place.
  • All teachers need a good rest during the Easter break.

School Return after Easter

  • The SSTA has a major concern that the Government’s intention for all secondary school pupils to be back in school on a full time basis after the Easter break is an unrealistic expectation.
  • This intention will lead to further work being undertaken by school staff during the Easter break in preparation for a full pupil return
  • SSTA is of the view that arrangements will need to be the similar to those in place before the Easter break. There should only be a phased increase of pupils when restrictions are eased in the community (for example following the removal of 2 metre physical distancing guidelines).

National Qualifications 2021 and £400

Finally, following the First Minister’s announcement on 16 February that two additional days will be set aside for assessment procedures, with teachers and lecturers involved in awarding national qualifications this year receiving a one-off payment of £400 (pro-rata), no further detail has yet been forthcoming.  Information will be circulated as soon as it is received.

Published on 10 March 2021 - COVID-19 / Information for Members

Contact Details

Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, West End House, 14 West End Place, Edinburgh EH11 2ED

0131 313 7300

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