Covid in Scotland: Schools begin full-time classroom return

Apr 14, 2021 by

Secondary and primary pupils in six Scottish councils have returned to full-time, in-class lessons following the Easter break.

The return of pupils in Aberdeen, Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, Moray, Shetland and the Western Isles marks the end of distance learning for many.

Pupils will no longer have to follow strict physical distancing rules, but will still need to wear face coverings.

The majority of Scotland’s pupils are due to return to school on 19 April.

However, pupils in Edinburgh and Midlothian councils will return on 20 April.

Ministers have said that schools will need to adopt enhanced safety precautions, such as improved ventilation and Covid testing, to mitigate the relaxation of physical distancing measures.

Primary schools had already resumed full-time teaching before the Easter holidays, but a part-time blended learning system had been in place in secondary schools.

Alison Murison, head teacher at Aberdeen Grammar School, was among those who welcomed back pupils after the Easter holiday.

“The staff and pupils have worked so hard to keep learning going but they know that nothing replicates being in the classroom,” she said. “That’s what they are looking forward to.”

She said the return to school was the “big prize” they had been waiting for.

In addition to measures introduced in August, they now have regular lateral flow testing, and pupils and staff would wear masks inside buildings at all times.

“It is so, so important that we adhere to those,” Ms Murison said. “I am confident because the pupils, the staff, the parents have all been right behind me from the start in making sure that we follow these mitigations. They have been hugely supportive. ”

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Aberdeen Grammar School head teacher Alison Murison said the return to school was the “big prize” they had been waiting for.

The only exception to pupils returning will be those in the shielding category.

The first minister has said that pupils who were shielding should stay at home until 26 April, in line with advice from the chief medical officer.

Exams cancelled

It comes after this year’s National 5s, Highers and Advanced Highers were cancelled because of disruption caused by the pandemic.

Grades will instead be based on “teacher judgement” backed up by evidence gathered in tests.

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However, the approach across schools varies – with some spreading the tests over class lesson times while others will do them in one go, with invigilators on hand to ensure strict exam conditions are met.

Hugh McCulloch, head teacher of Elgin High School in Moray, said it had been a “challenging time for young people” but staff had been involved in consultations over what the new assessments would look like.

“They are slimmed down and will take account of what the student’s learning has been over the broken down year that they have had,” he told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland.

He added: “You’ve got a lot of teacher professional judgement as well which will contribute to that.

“I do believe we will be able to support them to get the results that they are worthy of with these assessment diets.”

Source: Covid in Scotland: Schools begin full-time classroom return – BBC News

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