Closure of schools before the Christmas holiday is being pursued in Dundee and Fife despite the Scottish Government ruling out a longer break.
Local branches of the Educational Institute of Scotland want schools in the city and the kingdom to shut on December 18. In Dundee, the union also wants their reopening delayed until January 11.
Schoolchildren would be taught remotely on the days outside the fortnight break, they say.
Many teachers are angry that changes considered by the government which could have seen schools closed from December 18 to January 11 were rejected.
A holiday extension or remote learning days were proposed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus after relaxed restrictions over Christmas and to prevent holiday disruption for senior staff involved in contact tracing.
It would also have allowed teachers to isolate for six days before mixing with family members.
David Farmer, of EIS Fife, said: “People assumed that something was going to change and are both angered and disappointed by the fact that it hasn’t.
“We are asking Fife Council to consider blended learning for the two days of the last week of term.
People assumed that something was going to change and are both angered and disappointed by the fact that it hasn’t.”
David Farmer, EIS Fife
“It’s clear that councils have some leeway in decisions and we are hopeful that Fife will respond in a positive way.”
School holidays run from December 23 to January 5 in Fife and December 24 to January 6 in Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross.
Dundee EIS secretary David Baxter said: “The EIS think there are a lot of compelling reasons for a shift to remote learning either side of the planned holidays.
“This would not be an extension to the holidays, we would still be providing teaching and learning for pupils to ensure there is continuity of education.
The EIS think there are a lot of compelling reasons for a shift to remote learning either side of the planned holidays.”
David Baxter, EIS Dundee
“This is a measure which would make us feel safer, for teachers, for parents and for pupils.”
Mr Swinney’s announcement was a “blow”, said Mr Baxter, to teachers who believed changes would be made to the holiday period.
The Deputy First Minister spoke on Tuesday of concerns about tired head teachers being asked to trace contacts on Christmas Day of confirmed Covid cases and of the possibility of the virus recirculating when schools reopened after increased social interaction at Christmas.
But on Thursday he said public health advice was that there would be greater risk of transmission if children were mixing socially outside school during an extended break than in the controlled environment of school buildings.
An early school closure and shift to remote learning would only occur on public health grounds or on Scottish Government instruction, Fife Council said.
Executive director of education and children’s services Carrie Lindsay said: “Our staff have worked tirelessly to support our children and young people across all schools in Fife since March and I’d like to acknowledge each and every one of them for what they have done to keep our children and young people learning.
Our staff have worked tirelessly to support our children and young people across all schools in Fife since March and I’d like to acknowledge each and every one of them for what they have done to keep our children and young people learning.”
Carrie Lindsay, Fife Council education and children’s services executive director
“It is very important to us that school staff have their planned holidays without possible interruption due to the need to engage in contact tracing.
“We are working with our public health colleagues in Fife to ensure we have a workable system in place.
“A move to remote learning for school days prior to the planned Christmas holidays would only be able to happen if instructed by Scottish Government or on public health grounds.”
Dundee City Council
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The council will speak directly to the trade unions about the issues that they want to discuss.
“We are also looking closely at arrangements with the health protection team from NHS Tayside that may be needed for contact tracing during the holiday period.”