There will be no “one-size-fits-all” approach to getting children back into Dundee schools after lockdown, according to city education bosses.
Staff at schools across the city are beginning preparations to welcome back pupils in August and plans are being drawn up to transform the learning environments into places where children and teachers can maintain social distancing.
Audrey May, the chief education officer at the council, said: “From June 15 the schools will be open for staff, so in the two weeks from then until the summer break they will be preparing for the pupils coming back in August.
“In these two weeks, the only children that are likely to come into the school are small groups of those pupils in key transitional stages such as new primary ones and maybe senior secondary pupils.
“But this will be for very short periods of time and the work for these pupils that might be transitioning into primary or secondary schools will continue into August.”
The approach to getting kids back into school once the new term begins will differ from school to school, and it will be up to the individual establishments to put in place a plan that works for them and their pupils.
Audrey added: “We want as many children back as possible but it has to be done safely.”
‘Not all schools are the same size so it could be the case that some will split the kids into three groups and have 30% of their pupils in at any given time, and others could have up to 50%.
“Individual schools will come up with their own plan for what’s best for their own children and community which they will share with parents and families.
Councillor Stewart Hunter, who acts as the city council’s education spokesman, added: “Our priority is the safety of our staff and the young people, that is behind everything that we are doing.
“What might work in one school, might not work in another so each of them will bring out their own plan.”
Concerns had been raised in England that social distancing in schools would prove to be a challenge and in one survey, almost three-quarters of school staff have said that social distancing in UK schools is “impossible.”
But despite the significant changes that will come into place, the council’s chief education officer said schools would be ready and flexible in their approach.
Audrey May said: “Being back in school will be a challenge for kids and teachers so we will need to readjust.
“For the younger children, it will be more challenging to manage but we have to ensure the buildings are set up in such a way that we can maintain social distancing.
“But we have to remind young people that these are the new ways and that’s what teachers do anyway.”
The council is also keen to include the wider community in the planning involved in getting the schools ready and is keeping the lines of communication open for parents and families to give contribute their own ideas to the process.
“There’s been really productive talks with the parents and kids as well so we need to maintain this going forward,” Stewart Hunter added.