Education leaders in Dundee have said they must take a “realistic” approach in preparing for a second wave of coronavirus as schools reopen this week.
Pupils are phased back into the classroom after almost five months away.
A range of safety measures have already been introduced in schools to keep staff and children safe, such as enhanced cleaning and a ban on large gatherings and assemblies.
But city schools are also having to put plans in place in the event of a second lockdown.
We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”
Stewart Hunter, children and families’ convener.
The Scottish Government have not revealed official plans for how schools should prepare for second wave.
However, guidance says if a local area sees a spike in infection rates, councils will work with the Department for Education to determine which measures should be taken.
This could see local authorities advising individual schools, or a number of schools in a city or town, to close depending on infection rates.
Dundee schools prepared
Stewart Hunter, Dundee City Council’s children and families’ convener, said: “We have to be realistic when we look at other countries that have reopened – there have been spikes.
“Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen here but it would be unrealistic for us not to plan for that eventuality.
“We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best.
“Over the last few weeks we said the only way we could open 100% full time was if people right across Scotland continued to follow guidelines and rules about masks and social distancing so we don’t have a second wave.”
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced pupils would be welcomed back to the classroom part time.
But suppression of the virus meant schools were able to reopen full time from August 12, Nicola Sturgeon said.
Blended learning a ‘contingency’ plan
Announcing the plans, the First Minister said she could not rule out blended learning in the future, however, and it remains a contingency plan if the virus makes it unsafe for children and staff to attend school each day.
Based on part time learning plans revealed by Dundee City Council in June, pupils could only be in the classroom two days per week.
Classroom sizes, alongside school capacity, would have to be significantly reduced.
Audrey May, chief education officer, said the council have been continuing to enhance their online learning network.
She said: “None of us know what is going to happen tomorrow or in the future. We hope this doesn’t happen but we are being given national guidance and if we need to close individual schools then we’ll follow that guidance.
“One of the things that has been a positive out of lockdown has been the development of better online blended learning.
“Nationally all local authorities want to develop that and have more teachers available to teach online.
“Not because we think there might be another lockdown but because we want to offer a wider choice for senior students in terms of subject areas that they’d want to study in terms of qualification level.
“It could also help us if we have to close in the future.”