Following the First Minister’s recent announcement, all secondary and primary pupils in Orkney will return to full-time, in-person and face-to-face learning following the Easter break on Monday 19 April.
There will be a removal of the strict 2m physical distancing rules between pupils in secondary schools – however, a part of the national FACTS programme - physical distancing between young people will continue to be encouraged when possible. Adults and young people will be asked to remain 2m apart when practicable.
To mitigate the relaxation of physical distancing measures, schools will adopt enhanced safety precautions, such as improved ventilation and the continued voluntary twice-weekly lateral flow COVID-19 testing among staff and senior pupils.
Primary schools have already resumed full-time in-school teaching in March, but a part-time blended learning system has been in place in secondary schools.
Children, young people and staff should continue to follow a number of key personal hygiene measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection:
- Frequent washing/sanitising of hands for 20 seconds, and drying thoroughly always when entering/leaving the building, before/after eating and after using the toilet;
- Encouraging children, young people and staff to avoid touching their faces including mouth, eyes and nose; and
- Using a tissue, or elbow, to cough or sneeze and use bins that are emptied regularly for tissue waste.
Anyone wishing to wear a face covering in any part of the school should be permitted to do so. Face coverings should be worn by adults wherever they cannot keep 2m distance with other adults and/or children and young people.
Unless exempt, face coverings should also be worn in the following circumstances:
- At all times when adults in primary schools are moving around the school in corridors, office and admin areas, canteens (except when dining) and other confined communal areas, (including staff rooms and toilets);
- At all times for all staff and learners in secondary schools (including special schools and independent and grant aided schools); and
- In line with the current arrangements for public transport, for adults and children and young people aged 5 and above, travelling on school buses.
Parents/carers should continue to avoid contacts with other parents, children and young people at the school gates, on the way to school and after school in order to try and reduce community spread/outbreaks.
School communities will remain vigilant for the symptoms of COVID-19 and will continue to ensure individuals understand what actions they should take if someone develops them, both at school and away.
The most common symptoms are:
- New continuous cough.
- Fever/high temperature.
- Loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).
It is essential that people do not attend school if symptomatic. Everyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should self- isolate straight away, stay at home and arrange a test.
Orkney Islands Council’s Executive Director of Education, Leisure and Housing, James Wylie, said: “Following receipt of the Scottish Government’s confirmation of the full-time return, as well as extensive supplementary guidance, we are now in a position to be able to write to parents and carers offering further clarification and reassurance.
“Thankfully, the presence of the virus in Orkney has remained low throughout the pandemic and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure our education settings are as COVID-19 secure as they can be. The safety and wellbeing of staff and all learners continues to be uppermost to all the planning which has, and continues, to take place.”
Chair of the Orkney Islands Council Education, Leisure and Housing Committee, Councillor Gwenda Shearer, added: “Many families in Orkney have long awaited the news of a safe full return to learning within our schools. I am delighted we have confirmation of this happening following the Easter holidays.”
Notes: FACTS- Face Coverings; Avoid Crowds; Clean Hands; Two Metres; Self Isolate.