With schools to return for most pupils on August 11, two Dundee councillors admitted that they understand that parents will be fearful for their children’s health due to coronavirus.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament on Thursday that staff would begin work next month to prepare classrooms for the next term – and “a different model of learning”.
She said all schools would reopen from August 11 using a “blended model”, which would involve part-time study in school combined with some learning at home (see video below).
Councillor Kevin Keenan, who leads the Labour group in Dundee, and the local authority leader John Alexander spoke to the Tele via a video interview to give their thoughts on the news.
Councillor Keenan said while he could understand the concern, it was important there wasn’t a “lost generation” in Dundee whose futures are hampered by the pandemic..
Mr Keenan, who represents the Strathmartine ward, said different cleaning regimes, and strict social distancing would be key to a safe return for pupils to city schools.
He continued: “There will be a whole host of things that go into place. Parents need to be aware of that, and they need to be comfortable – or there will be some level of backlash where (their children) don’t attend.
“We in society want children to get the absolute best we can, and make sure that they get education. I don’t want children in Dundee left behind in any way whatsoever.
“We can’t have a forgotten generation in Dundee.”
Mr Alexander, who also represents Strathmartine, said in Thursday’s interview: “I think what the first minister said today, and in previous weeks – and made very clear – is that the approach that will be taken will be very cautious.
“It will be an incremental change, and it isn’t going to be, as I previously described, ‘a flick of a switch’ and we all go back to normal.
“It’s also not as simple as saying, ‘schools will start back in August’ – it’s looking at different ways of delivering the service, so we might have phasing of different (school) years for example.
“Obviously there will be social distancing in place in classrooms. So, a lot of planning as I mentioned last week, that’s gone into this, in preparation for the potential announcement.
“So, hopefully by the time we get to the end of August, (the infection rate) will be subdued to such a level that there isn’t any concern at that point in time.
“All parents, I think, irrespective of whether schools have started or not, you’re always going to have a degree of concern about your young ones. I think that will always be there because it’s human nature.”