Fife’s high school pupils will initially return to classrooms for just one day a week after the summer holidays, it has been confirmed.
Fife Council said the large number of pupils and the transport needed to ensure social distancing meant reopening secondary schools was far more complex than for primary schools and nurseries.
Younger pupils will be taught in school for two days each week from the start of the new term, with the remainder of their learning done at home.
However, high school students will spend only one fifth of the week in school for the first week or two as the council aims to have just 20% of youngsters in buildings at any one time.
This will gradually increase from the end of August until a full timetable can be introduced.
In a letter to parents, Fife’s executive director of education and children’s services, Carrie Lindsay, said the blended learning approach was necessary as “physical distancing needs to continue when children come back to school”.
She said full risk assessments would be carried out before buildings reopened and staff would be trained in physical distancing measures.
Primary pupils will be split into two groups so that only half the children are in school at any one time – the first group will attend on Mondays and Tuesdays and the second on Thursdays and Fridays.
Wednesdays will be used for enhanced cleaning and blended learning preparation and support.
Most nurseries will also offer children two sessions per week, while separate arrangements will be made for special schools and departments of additional support.
Ms Lindsay said: “We know that we can’t expect the youngest children to stay physically distanced.
“Instead, we’ll use other approved ways to help keep them safe, such as smaller groupings, minimising contact between groups and enhanced hygiene.”
She added: “I know we all have differing views about what is the right thing to do in these unprecedented circumstances.
“I’d like to reassure you that we have looked at all of the advice and guidance, our available space, our staffing, transport provision etc to propose our options here in Fife.”
She said the proposals would be reviewed if Scottish Government advice changed.
Fife pupils will begin their return to classrooms on August 12, a week earlier than planned to allow schools across Scotland to open together.