Schoolchildren around the country were delighted to be back with their classmates this morning after weeks apart.
Among them was Fife youngster Jessica Cronin, 7, who was one of thousands of P1 to P3 and nursery children who returned in the first phase of schools reopening fully.
Like many working parents, mum Janis McCulloch was equally relieved to see Jessica reunited with her friends and teachers at Bellyeoman Primary School, in Dunfermline.
Since the start of term in January Jessica and little sister Emily, 3, have been learning at home while mum Janis, a media officer for Scouts Scotland, and dad Paul Cronin, a civil engineer, work from home.
Janis said: “She was a little bit nervous, butterflies in her tummy in the morning, but excited to see her friends and her teacher in real life instead of over videos.”
Both Jessica and her parents have found the second experience of lockdown a struggle.
Janis said: “She hasn’t enjoyed learning at home at all, it’s just not the same as having your friends around you.
Trying to do everything, be a parent, be an educator, be a good employee, it’s been really hard.”
“They just miss sitting next to their friends at a table and being able to say ‘I don’t understand this, do you understand this?’ and being able to get out and play at playtime. She’ll be so much happier being back at school.”
In common with families around the country, Janis and Paul have juggled their jobs with teaching and caring for their children.
Janis said: “It’s been really, really difficult for us working full-time. We both have flexible employers but even then there are times when you are both on Zoom calls and they are left to themselves.
“Trying to do everything, be a parent, be an educator, be a good employee, it’s been really hard.”
Janis said it was clear teachers at Jessica’s school had put in a huge effort to deliver remote learning, which had “come on leaps and bounds” since the last lockdown.
But she added: “It’s really good for her to get back. It’s important for them to be around people their own age, rather than their parents.”
Parents group 50/50 In School
As a spokesperson for the 50/50 In School campaign, Janis said parents of older children will be anxious to know when it’s their turn to get back to class.
She said: “We are pleased to see the younger children have gone back but we are worried about older children and how long it’s going to be for them to get back.
“They’ve missed almost a full year of school and in different areas across the country online learning is patchy.
“We tend to follow the line that health experts give us, so if they say it’s not safe for older children to be back yet then we understand that, however we’d love to see some sort of end date in sight because parents are exhausted, so are young people.
“Even if it was they will be back by the end of April, it’s a date to work with.”
A limited number of secondary school pupils are also able to return part-time for essential practical coursework.
More detail about the next phase of the return to school is expected next week.
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