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Highland return to school proposal welcomed by MSP Maree Todd


By Hector MacKenzie

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Maree Todd MSP: 'Giving parents the confidence that schools are safe is the overriding priority'.
Maree Todd MSP: 'Giving parents the confidence that schools are safe is the overriding priority'.

A ROSS-BASED MSP with responsibility for children has welcomed plans for pupils to return to schools in August, subject to scientific advice that it is safe to do so.

Maree Todd, the Scottish Government Minister for Children and Young People, made her remarks after it was announced schools across the Highlands & Islands will return on August 11.

Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings will open over the summer.

An agreement reached between councils, professional associations and parent representatives means that physical distancing, staggered arrival and departure times, staggered break times, increased hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning regimes and a range of other measures must be implemented.

To maximise the time pupils can have in the classroom and support children in the new model of schooling, including digital home learning, the SNP Government is also investing £9 million for 25,000 laptops or tablets – with internet access provided – for disadvantaged children as part of the first phase of provision to support learning outside school.

Ms Todd said:“In reopening schools across the region, ensuring the safety of children, young people and staff and giving parents the confidence that schools are safe is the overriding priority.

"To allow appropriate physical distancing, children in the Highlands & Islands will return to a blended model of part time in-school and part time at-home learning from August 11 - subject to scientific advice that it is safe to do so.

“Of course, these arrangements will not represent a complete return to normality by August. We don’t know how long schools will have to work this way, just as we don’t know how long coronavirus will be a threat.

“I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone in the Highlands and Islands when I share my gratitude towards parents, carers and teachers who are doing so much to ensure that children continue to learn during this lockdown period, and to those young people who have stayed at home in extremely challenging circumstances.

“By doing the right thing, all of us have helped to slow the spread of the virus, to protect our NHS from being overwhelmed, and to save lives.”


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