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Plockton High School head pays tribute to lockdown efforts and offers assurances over return to classrooms

By Hector MacKenzie

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THE rector of a Ross-shire school has assured parents that staff will be prepared for whatever scenario the return to school for the new session in August brings.

Many schools had been preparing for a phased return to school as coronavirus restrictions are eased with a "blended" model including time in the classroom and remote schooling from home.

An announcement by the Scottish Government last week that it hopes to see a full return to school after the summer break if current progress curbing coronavirus continues has prompted some schools to update previously announced plans.

Plockton High School head Susan Galloway said a newsletter issued last week focused on the phased reopening of the school based on the blended learning model. She wrote: "This was always going to be a complex arrangement but we were working through the details and I again thank the Parent Council for taking a very pro-active approach to supporting our proposal and for assisting by helping us to gather information about involving yourselves, if possible, with transport to school.

"The situation and the outlook changed on Tuesday when the Deputy First Minister made his announcement that, as the extent of Covid-19 has now stabilised, the national picture looks more positive and, should it remain thus, we are planning for a full return to school in August.

"As we look ahead, please be assured that we have contingency plans in place should we be required (1) to scale back our plans or (2) to return to complete lockdown and if we do return as ‘normal’ there will be some additional measures in place including additional cleaning of bathrooms, communal spaces, door handles etc, regular checks on supplies in bathrooms and the provision of disinfectant spray and hand sanitiser in all rooms. We will be reminding pupils of the importance of good hygiene practices and I know that you will reinforce these messages from home."

Staff have spent some time decluttering classrooms to assist school cleaners who are continuing a deep clean across the whole building. Ms Galloway paid tribute to the janitorial and cleaning team "who take such a pride in their work". She said: "I would like to thank them for the hours they have spent in the school over the past few months and for the additional work they will undertake when we return to the building."

The school is also working on plans to assure a safe return to its hostel.

Ms Galloway said: "Please be assured that everything we do to prepare for reopening the school will be in line with the guidelines we have received from the Scottish Government, Highland Council and the NHS."

The rector also acknowledges the challenge pupils have faced and offers an assurance this will be taken into account on the return with "a period of recovery" to ensure pupils feel safe on buses, in the building and around people and for the reintroduction to to a more structured day .

Ther school has set up a health and wellbeing group of teaching staff and partners who will be providing a series of Facebook posts highlighting mental health issues in the run-up to the summer break.

She paid tribute to staff, pupils and parents for adapting to digital learning and finding creative ways to continue learning and said of the school leavers: "I often think of our leavers and feel that their time in school should not have ended like this and we continue to hope that we might be able to find an opportunity for us to be together and to celebrate achievements when we return to school."

The official last day of term this week is Thursday, July 2.

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