Children starting school for the first time could face being left at the gates at some schools amid differing rules over access to school grounds.
Although the Scottish Government is expected to give greater clarity about the new term next Tuesday, Covid guidance currently states that parents should not enter school buildings unless required.
In normal times, some schools allow parents to take their child right into the classroom on their first day.
When school restarts next month some mums and dads are being allowed into the playground to drop off new P1s while others are not.
There is no blanket rule and policies differ between council areas and schools.
“I’ve spoken to parents who are upset”
Now one Fife councillor is calling for blanket guidance to be issued so that parents of new primary one pupils are allowed on school grounds when dropping them off.
Julie Ford, who represents the Glenrothes West and Kinglassie ward, says she has been contacted by parents who have been left upset at the prospect of leaving their children at the school gate on their first ever day.
Fife Council has allowed schools to set their own rules for drop off and pick up times.
Ms Ford said: “I’ve spoken to parents who are upset about the situation, and quite distressed as well.
“There are also other parents that are quite angry at the situation.
“Kids have no idea what they they are going into, and for them to be either not allowed to be taken by their parents onto the school grounds or for their parents to have to choose which one takes them in, parents are quite distressed.”
A poll conducted by the SNP councillor found differing policies between primary schools in the Kingdom.
Whilst the majority are allowing one parent into the playground to drop their child off, at least five have told parents they can only drop their child off at the school gates.
Ms Ford says that by allowing just one parent onto school grounds, it could unfairly impact families where the parents are separated, as well as those children with additional support needs.
She said: “The most serious issues that were thrown up in the replies that I received were about children from broken homes – which parent is the one who takes the child into the grounds?
“The other major issue brought to my attention was of a child with additional support needs who had to be left at the school gates and not allowed to be accompanied by their parent(s).
“I feel there must be a way where we can allow both parents to on the school grounds.”
Councillor Julie Ford
“I’ve been told that irrespective of the potential rule change, these policies that have been sent out to parents about drop-offs will stay in place.
“I feel there must be a way where we can allow both parents onto the school grounds for the child’s first day of school.”
Ms Ford is writing to Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville this week to ask for clearer guidance ahead of the new school year.
What about Tayside?
Unlike Fife, Angus Council has a blanket policy, although this could change before the new term with national guidance.
A council spokeswoman said: “At present parents are not allowed to enter the playground due to previous Scottish Government guidance.
“For the next term, advice and risk assessments to schools will continue to reflect the most up-to-date Scottish Government guidance.
“We will review this advice when guidance for the new session is released by Scottish Government.”
Dundee City Council said it will issue advice nearer the start of term taking into consideration any updated national guidance.
The First Minister has previously said a final decision will be announced on Tuesday on Scotland’s planned move out of level 0 Covid restrictions on August 9.
This could see the removal of social distancing requirements.
What is Fife Council saying?
Executive Director of Education and Children’s Services at Fife Council, Carrie Lindsay said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming our school communities back after the summer holidays.
“As always we will be following Scottish Government and public health guidance to keep our school communities safe.
“All of our head teachers will use their own school risk assessments and national guidance to make decisions as to what will work in their own schools.
“Some schools may be able to allow a parent, or parents, access in a controlled way but it might not be possible to do this in all of our schools. We’ll keep parents informed and updated as guidance changes.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are continuing to work with partners, including through the Covid-19 Education Recovery Group, to develop updated guidance that will support schools to reopen safely after the summer holidays.
“As part of our wider preparations for the new academic term, we will set out our plans and guidance for schools in advance of their return from the summer break.”