Plan for reopening of Island schools - appeal for retired teachers to help with smaller classes

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is to ask retired teachers to consider returning to schools in the Western Isles to help the authority as it reopens schools in August.

By Peter Urepth, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 2:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 2:57 pm

The move is one of a series of measures outlined this week by the Comhairle’s director of education, Bernard Chisholm, detailing how schools will reopen in August, who said that retired teachers would be used to assist the authority to maintain social distancing measures through the teaching of smaller groups of children on school premises.

The authority also outlined plans for the return that will include phased transport and arrival times at schools, and with children observing social distancing on school buses.

In his statement, issued on the Comhairle’s social media platforms, Mr Chisholm said that he wanted to “reassure” staff that the authority was working with trade unions and others, “to make sure that all of their needs are going to be met”.

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He added: “Our number one message is that safety is paramount, so you will only come back to school when the scientific advice is there and when ‘Test, Trace and Isolate’ support is available. So we will work within government guidelines.”

“What parents are worried about”, Mr Chisholm stated, “is the continuity, the frequency and how they manage those situations, how will their children get to the school – so the natural things you’d expect are there.

“All I would say to parents is that staff have been working to have our phasing delivery plan ready and that will address most of these questions.”

Last week the Comhairle confirmed that schools in the Western Isles will reopen for most children in line with Scottish Government guidance on August 11th, with more staff returning to schools from June 8th.

Some school buildings have remained open for specific groups of children during the lock-down, including for those of key-workers, but now the Scottish Government has announced that a new term will begin in August with children and young people returning to schools.