Update from the Headteacher – Friday 19 June 2020

Dear Parent/Carer,

I would like to share with you the general arrangements for in-school learning for Weeks 1 and 2 of the new term.

Week 1 will provide an opportunity for S1 Induction Days.  This is particularly important for the transition of our new pupils.  The school will also be open during Week 1 to pupils in S5/6 who may need to make changes to courses following the publication of SQA results.  Further information about the appointment system that will be in place for this will follow in due course.

Week 2 will allow time for Reconnection Days for all year groups.  This will provide teachers an opportunity to evaluate progress made by pupils in their learning before planning next steps.  There will be an initial focus on literacy, numeracy and wellbeing.  Key advice for senior phase pupils will also be shared.

Education provision for children of key workers and some of the most vulnerable pupils in our school will be available throughout the two week period.

Detailed plans will be sent by post to parents/carers of pupils in different year groups next week in accordance with advice from Midlothian Council.  This will ensure that pupils in all Midlothian schools receive the information at the same time.  The plans are based on the current public health guidelines of 2m social distancing measures.

There has been much debate in the media recently about the percentage of time that young people will spend in school from August onwards.  I thought it would be helpful to explain to you the parameters that we need to consider when making decisions about bringing young people back to school safely.

  1. The current social distancing measures of 2m spacing between pupils limits the number of  pupils who can be accommodated in a class at any one time.  A typical classroom can normally hold 30 pupils.  With the necessary social distancing measures in place, this is reduced to a maximum of 10 pupils or 1/3 of the normal capacity.
  2. Government advice is that schools should use all available spaces in the school building and consider the use of public buildings in the local neighbourhood.  Heath and safety officials have advised against the use of such areas without due consideration given to appropriate heating, lighting and ventilation.
  3. Some members of staff may be unable to return to school in August due to them being either clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable (shielding).  Consideration will also need to be given to staff who live with family members who fall into the shielding category.  Steps have been taken to try to secure additional staffing to ease this pressure but this will take some time to put in place.

Plans for Week 3+ will be shared with all in the school community in August to allow us to take account of the public health advice that is likely to emerge over the summer period.

I hope the above will give some indication of the complexity of the task.  Rest assured we will continue to work towards bringing as many of our pupils back for as much in-school learning as we safely can.

Kind regards,

Allyson Dobson