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Parents and education leader welcome confirmation schools will reopen full time without 2m physical distancing

schools return
Pupils will return full time after the Easter holidays - but some safety mitigations will still be required.

Parents and education leaders have shared their joy as secondary schools were given the green light to open full time without physical distancing after the Easter holidays.

Dundee City Council’s children and families convener Stewart Hunter has said the decision is a “huge step forward” for city children.

For many pupils, this will be the first full day of in-school education since Christmas.

In her coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced two metre physical distancing rules will be scrapped to facilitate the return.

Pupils will still be required to wear face coverings in the school building and twice weekly lateral flow test kits have been made available for all secondary school pupils.

In Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross, schools will reopen on April 19, while Fife pupils will return earlier, on April 12. Shielding pupils will not return until April 26.

Councillor Stewart Hunter

Following the news, Mr Hunter has urged the city school communities to stick to coronavirus safety guidance when schools and nurseries go back.

He said: “This is a huge step forward for our secondary pupils and they will be glad to return to school full-time following closures.

“It shows the progress that has been achieved and we must do all we can to protect that.

“The last few weeks of term allowed pupils to get back part-time and used to being in school again. For our senior pupils working towards national qualifications, this is a very important time.”

Families continue to have a vital role to play by sticking to the rules when they are dropping off and picking up at any of our nursery, primary and secondary schools.”

Councillor Stewart Hunter

Senior pupils will now be turning their focus to competing coursework and assessments which are required for the Scottish Qualification Authority’s alternative certification model following the cancelation of exams.

Some pupils have reportedly been told these assessments will be closed-book and under exam conditions.

Mr Hunter added: “Families continue to have a vital role to play by sticking to the rules when they are dropping off and picking up at any of our nursery, primary and secondary schools.

“I would also like to thank our school staff again for their ongoing efforts during these challenging times.

“We will be doing all we can to ensure that everyone can be as safe as possible in our nurseries and schools.”

Parents welcome return

Dundee mum-of-four Mary O’Connor said she is looking forward to her children getting back into a routine.

Two of her children attend Baldragon Academy and were able to attend schools for a few hours every day before the school closed for Easter.

Mary, who is also the Dundee National Parent Forum of Scotland rep, said: “My two were really lucky because they were in for a couple of periods every day for the last three weeks of school.

No distancing seems a bit odd”

“I think they found seeing their friends again was good and getting back into some normality again.

“It’ll be a shock for them having to get up and out the door again in the morning but they’re looking forward to it and it’ll be good to get them back to school and on track with their learning.”

But a Perthshire dad, who has a daughter in S1 said he is worried about the mixed messages on physical distancing.

He said: “Our understanding is that children, particularly secondary age, are as susceptible to the virus and variants so mask wearing but no distancing seems a bit odd.

“In reality, outside the classroom distancing wasn’t being well observed pre-Christmas but it seems odd to be abandoning that and yet saying masks are still required.

“I think the government were asking schools to ‘consider how they strengthen their mitigations’ – but why should it be for the schools to determine their approach and therefore likely lead to an inconsistent delivery.”

However he hopes the return will introduce some normality to learning as his daughter has not had any homework – aside from home learning tasks – since September, while his P1 daughter has been given regular additional tasks outside of the weekly school tasks.

“Children have suffered more than anyone in the last year, and the failure to keep schools open throughout is one of the main reasons for that.”

Jo Bisset

The confirmation has also been welcomed by parents campaign group UsForThem Scotland, who have said lessons must be learned from the school closures.

Jo Bisset, organiser, urged all political leaders to commit to never closing schools again.

She said: “Parents and pupils will be relieved at the full resumption of school – but politicians from all parties need to commit that this shocking catalogue of decision-making will never be repeated.

“Children have suffered more than anyone in the last year, and the failure to keep schools open throughout is one of the main reasons for that.”

WATCH: Schools closed 2020 – Reflections a year on from the day the bell rang for the last time

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