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Coronavirus and additional support for learning

How will my child’s school or nursery keep them safe?

Local authorities, schools and nurseries have been working hard to make sure it is safe for your child to attend while Scotland continues to respond to coronavirus. Everyone is aware of the risks and should follow the latest Scottish Government guidance to make sure that they have taken all the steps they can to keep pupils and staff safe from coronavirus, for example:

  • encouraging good hygiene and hand-washing
  • regular cleaning of rooms and equipment
  • creating groups of children who will stay together throughout the school day
  • keeping rooms well-ventilated
  • avoiding large movements of pupils
  • using face coverings as required
  • making sure transport to school is safe.

Your child’s school should explain to you all the steps they are taking to protect pupils’ health and safety, but if you have any particular concerns about your child, you can discuss them with your child’s teacher.

This section contains answers to some of the questions that you may have about keeping your child safe. If you have a question that we have not answered, please get in touch with our helpline.

You can also visit ParentClub’s website where you might find more answers to your questions.

Pupils are not be expected to keep two metres away from their friends and classmates. They should do other things, though, to keep themselves and others safe, such as washing their hands regularly and following other school rules.

If your child is an older pupil in the later stages of secondary school, they will likely be encouraged to keep distance from their peers where possible to further reduce the risk.

Primary school pupils generally do not have to wear a face covering or mask at school unless their doctor or healthcare professional has advised them to. If your child wants to wear a face covering in primary school, they should be allowed to do so.

From 31 August, high school pupils will be asked to wear a face covering or mask at school in certain situations (unless they are exempt due to their additional support needs or a health condition). Generally, pupils will not be expected to wear a face covering while they are in their classroom, but they will be asked to wear one in busier and more confined communal areas – like when walking in the corridors between classrooms and when visiting the school toilets.

From 31 August, all children aged 5 and over will need to wear face coverings on school transport (unless they are exempt, for example due to a health condition). This means the rules will be the same for school transport as they are for public transport.

If there is an increase in the spreading of coronavirus, either nationally or locally in your area, your child’s school may step up their safety measures around the wearing of face coverings. For example, they may ask pupils to wear them in their classrooms.

All schools should consider the impact of both staff and pupils wearing face coverings on pupils with additional support needs. For example, pupils with hearing loss or pupils who rely on visual cues who may find it difficult to follow teachers’ instructions if they are wearing a face covering. If your child finds it difficult to communicate with or understand others because they are wearing a face covering, or if wearing a face covering would cause them distress, you can discuss what changes the school might need to make to avoid putting your child at a disadvantage.

While your child should follow the Scottish Government guidance and school rules around wearing a face covering, some pupils with additional support needs may find it challenging to always do so. The school should take account of their individual needs, and no pupil should be excluded for not wearing a face covering.

Reach, our website for children and young people, also has advice on wearing face masks.

Nearly all children are expected to now be attending school full time, even if they have been shielding during the coronavirus pandemic. However, a few children may be too unwell to attend school, or their doctor or health professional might think the risk is too great. If your child has been advised that they cannot return to school, it is important to remember they still have a right to an education and to get support with their learning at home. Our factsheet, ‘When your child is too unwell to attend school’, explains what these rights are.

If your child’s health condition means they are at greater risk from coronavirus, it is important that their school or nursery takes this into account and follows any medical guidance necessary to keep your child safe. They may have done an individual risk assessment for your child about returning to school, which should be kept up to date.

Schools also have a duty to support children with their healthcare needs. If your child has an existing healthcare plan, it may be helpful to ask the school to review and update their existing plan. If they do not currently have one, it may be helpful to ask the school to put a healthcare plan in place before your child returns to school or nursery. There is more information about healthcare plans in our factsheet on ‘Supporting pupils with healthcare needs’.

Even if your child lives with someone who is at increased risk from coronavirus, they should attend school or nursery unless a doctor or health professional has advised them not to.

You can let the school or nursery know about your family’s situation, so they can be aware and consider what steps they can take to reduce the risk for your child and family.

If your child is living with someone who is at increased risk from coronavirus, this may also have an impact on their wellbeing or learning. For example, they may be a young carer helping to support a family member living with an illness at home. Our website for children and young people, reach.scot, has lots of great advice for young carers.

Plans are in place to respond quickly and safely if your child, or another child or staff member, develops coronavirus symptoms while at school or nursery. They would be kept in a safe space where they were physically distant from others while the school contacted you and made arrangements for your child to be collected or make their way home.

The school will be able to help advise you on the current guidance and how to respond if your child develops symptoms. There is also information available on Parent Club’s webpage on schools reopening.

If your child has developed symptoms and needs to self-isolate at home, the school should work with you to make sure they get support to continue with their learning from home if they are well enough to continue to learn while self-isolating.

For more information about this see our webpage 'What support can my child get if they cannot attend school because of coronavirus?'.

It is completely normal and understandable to be worried about your child going back to school or nursery after months of them staying at home. If you are still concerned about your child’s safety and worried about sending them back, it is important you speak to their school or nursery about this.

You can ask them about the steps they have taken to keep your child safe and discuss what more they might be able to do to address your concerns. You might find our factsheet on Working together with your child’s school helpful to prepare for that discussion.

Although you might worry about sending your child to school, you should bear in mind that they have a right to an education and you have duty as their parent to make sure they get an education from age 5 to 16. So it is really important that you work with the school to find a solution that means your child can get back into school as soon as possible.

The current Scottish Government guidance on reopening schools only applies to local authority educational settings. However, the Scottish Government guidance states that independent schools may find it helpful to use the same guidance.
This means it is up to individual independent schools to consider their own arrangements for continuing education for their pupils, including international pupils and pupils who ‘board’ or live at school for part of the school year.

Independent boarding schools may also find it helpful to consider the Scottish Government coronavirus guidance on Residential childcare, however again this guidance currently only needs to be followed for residential childcare that is arranged by a local authority.

If your child attends an independent school and you are concerned about the measures the school are taking to keep them safe from coronavirus, you can contact the school to discuss your child’s individual needs and how they are taking these into account. There is more information about your child’s rights to support in our factsheet on Independent schools and additional support for learning.

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Resources/Advice for Young People/

Our service Reach has bitesize, easy read advice to help you talk to your child about their learning and support during coronavirus.

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