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Alness Academy pupils and parents given glimpse of how return to school will look after summer holidays


By Hector MacKenzie

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Alness Academy has outlined its plans for the return to school after the summer holidays. A 'blended' approach, with continued remote learning supplementing time in the classrooms, is anticipated.
Alness Academy has outlined its plans for the return to school after the summer holidays. A 'blended' approach, with continued remote learning supplementing time in the classrooms, is anticipated.

PARENTS and carers of pupils attending an Easter Ross secondary have been given an insight into how it will operate when children return to classrooms more than four months after lockdown was imposed.

Children returning to school in August after the summer holidays will face a dramatically different set-up worked out in response to the coronavirus crisis.

In a letter to parents, Alness Academy acting head Catherine Brown acknowledges parents "will have many queries about the return to school next August" and says that schools face a situation that is constantly evolving and led by national advice.

In outlining plans for a blend of school and home learning proposed as a result of social distancing requirements around the virus and capacity issues at schools, she insists: "Firstly, we want you to rest assured that your child and your family’s safety are our top priority. We have submitted a detailed risk assessment to Highland Council outlining our plans to reopen in August. We have tried to minimise pupil movement in the school where possible."

All S1 to S3 pupils will be in small groups of 10 for their sessions and will remain in the same room, she said. Each room will have its own wash station and every pupil will be expected to wash their hands on entry and exit of the school.

"While these plans are far from ideal, they offer our staff a chance to work face to face with our young people and rebuild the valuable connections that exist between our staff and pupils. This is the first step on the road to returning all our pupils to school full-time. Please rest assured that we will return the school to its full capacity as soon as it is safe to do so."

There will also be a one-way system in operation with plans that no room in the school will be used twice in one day "and there will be a full clean of the building every evening".

Further details and a video illustrating the work that has gone in to ensuring the school is a safe environment for children will follow, she said.

Discussions about transport to and from school are being held at a Highland Council level with further information promised in due course.

Alness pupils will receive a "blended" model of learning with some time in school and additional time online

Using the current model of social distancing, the school can accommodate around 55 per cent of pupils every day.

The school day will be run over two sessions from 10am until noon and 1pm to 3pm.

Pupils in S1-S3 will attend for either a morning or afternoon session. Some senior phase pupils may be in school for both sessions, depending on their timetable.

S1/S2 provision will be focussed on ensuring pupils have access to the three key areas of curriculum: literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

The S3 cohort will have one afternoon of English a week and one afternoon of maths. Their other curricular areas will be covered as part of their online provision.

S4 to S6 pupils will have access to all of their curricular teachers in school for two hours every week.

Details of groupings and times for S1 to S3 will be provided next week through Google Classrooms, her letter states.

S4/5/6 will be notified about which session they should attend by their classroom teacher.

Ms Brown said: "While these plans are far from ideal, they offer our staff a chance to work face to face with our young people and rebuild the valuable connections that exist between our

staff and pupils. This is the first step on the road to returning all our pupils to school full-time. Please rest assured that we will return the school to its full capacity as soon as it is safe to do so."

Referring to the new-build Academy on which construction work is due to restart, she said: "We also have our fantastic new build to look forward to on the horizon. Please continue to look after each other and stay safe."

Related: Highland Council back to school plans outlined

Work on new build at Alness Academy set to resume

Alness pupil's Mona Lisa on an egg is a cracker

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