Tackling the coronavirus pandemic’s hidden impact on the wellbeing of Angus children must remain a top priority, a leading councillor has warned.
As a special full council meeting yesterday, members approved four extra social workers to take up a schools’ frontline role when pupils return to classrooms next month.
Authority social care spokesperson Lois Speed said the council would be paying a price for years to come to combat the legacy of Covid-19 on the area’s young people.
The remote meeting agreed a range of measures including a £2.3million plan to extend temporary three-month contracts for 40 temporary teachers and 21 support staff to a full-year deal.
A dedicated social worker will also work in each of the county’s four double-cluster areas to offer support to vulnerable children after other countries experienced an upturn in care service referrals with the re-opening of schools.
Arbroath Independent councillor Ms Speed said: “Many of our children and families have been left devastated, many traumatised due to fear, social isolation, loss of family, jobs and income as well as increased caring demands.
“This will have left many exhausted and on their knees. All of our mental health will likely have been challenged in some way.”
She added: “I anticipate that we may be back in chamber looking to increase resources again at a later date and although we do need to be prudent with our finances, the health and wellbeing of all of our children and families must remain our top priority throughout recovery and beyond. “
Children and learning convener, Arbroath Conservative councillor Derek Wann said the return to schools plan was “not an easy task.”
“Guidance changes sometimes daily, but we appreciate that is going to happen,” he said.
The Angus plan is for a full-time return to school from August 12, but a part-time contingency has been retained.
Councillors said confusion remained around school transport following fresh guidance which does not require youngsters to wear masks – a move which is likely to reduce an estimated £900,000 bill for the rest of the calendar year.
Forfar Conservative Braden Davy said: “This seems strange that pupils on a public bus would have a face covering, but not on a school bus.”
Education director Kelly McIntosh said further clarification is expected on that issue, and she told councillors discussions were also continuing with Tayside Contracts over the cost of deep cleaning Angus schools for the return of pupils.