Council leader John Alexander has said risk assessments will be carried out for individual pupils who have medical conditions, as they prepare to return to school in Dundee.
Mr Alexander said while the work being done by the council was mostly on a school-by-school basis, for some children with additional support needs (ASN) – and in particular, pupils who attend Kingspark School – a personal approach is to be taken, given the risk of coronavirus.
Medical practitioners will be brought in by the council and NHS Tayside to assess the needs of children most at-risk from Covid-19, due to underlying health conditions.
All of the pupils who attend Kingspark have complex additional support needs and many have additional physical disabilities or medical problems. The school educates pupils aged between five and 18.
Mr Alexander, who joined the Tele for a video interview, said: “Every school will look slightly different, because the pupil make up will be different, the school set-up will be different,” he said.
“Obviously Kingspark School is kind of different from the rest of the school establishment. It’s a different relationship we’ve got there working very closely with NHS Tayside, in particular, because of the acute medical needs that many of the kids have who go to Kingspark.
“And it’s a fantastic school, fantastic establishment, but again, the level of risk there is greater, because of the underlying health issues of those children. So the risk assessment needs to fully recognise all of that. The practical measures that were implemented will have to recognise that.
“We’ll be working with medical practitioners – it isn’t just teaching staff at Kingspark.
“There’s a dialogue there between the education department within the council, NHS Tayside, but also with the teaching staff and parents who send their children to that fantastic school.
“When we are talking about ASN children I think absolutely we need to make sure we are tailoring that, because you can’t treat children all exactly the same in terms of additional support needs.
“That risk-based approach is absolutely at the forefront of how we’re taking things forward.
“Stewart Hunter mentioned the other week about other pupils who might have some anxieties, so having that additional support – mental health and wellbeing – is going to be paramount as we get kids back into education as well.”
Meanwhile, Mr Hunter said discussions had been continuing with parents at every school, including Kingspark, to try to ensure children’s needs were met.
He said: “Throughout this period we have been holding conference calls with parent councils across Dundee, and that includes Kingspark.
“They shared with us their concerns and we need to make sure that we sit down with each child, who all have complex, specific needs, and ensure that we come up with a plan that suits them, because you can’t just do the same for each child.
“Because it is absolutely right that this will be particularly difficult for children with additional support needs, and we need to ensure that our risk assessments take that into account – these are conversations that we will continue to have.”